top of page

Spectacle Recycling

Lions Clubs throughout the British Isles collect unwanted and damaged spectacles. These are then sent to either Lions Clubs National Headquarters in Birmingham or Chichester Lions Club. Tens of thousands of spectacles are recycled each year.


All donations are examined by a team of Lions and other volunteers in the recycling workshop. Sorted pairs of glasses may then be sent for grading and distribution by Medico France in Le Havre.

Chichester Lions Club sends spectacles directly to contacts running eye clinics in Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Nigeria, and Nepal. In addition, volunteers from the Unite for Sight charity are supplied with spectacles to take with them on missions to countries across the world.

Lions Club National Headquarters in Birmingham sends spectacles to the National Police Aid Charity to be sent to the Gambia for eye camps, the Army working in Mali, and through a variety of independent charities operating in Nigeria, Chad, Tanzania, and Bangladesh.

Highlighted Story

Chichester Lions Club began collecting old glasses for recycling back in 1967. The initiative really took off in 1980 with a delivery of 700 sorted specs to the Missionary Optical Society (MOS) in Devon for use in their clinics in Kenya and India. 

Gradually other Lions Clubs started feeding their recycled spectacles through Chichester. So in 1985, a link was established with Le Havre Lions and Medico France. Over the following five years some 100,000 specs, 43,000 lenses, and 10,000 frames were sent to Medico France while still delivering to MOS in Devon as many pairs of sorted specs as needed. 

In 1988, another outlet was established through Vision Aid Overseas, and in 1990, a national campaign with Boots the Chemist and Help The Aged produced 460,000 pairs of specs in six months. Once sorted they went to places such as Cameroon, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Sri Lanka, India, Zanzibar, Jamaica, Bolivia, and Brazil. 

Although the scale of this campaign stretched the Chichester operation to its limits, Lions clubs continue to collect hundreds of thousands of spectacles each year. They work with local shops, surgeries, and other organisations that kindly host collection bins on their premises.

Spectacle donations arrive in Chichester in boxes and bags of all shapes and sizes. They are expertly sorted by Lions members and volunteers. Those sent onto Medico France are then cleaned and graded for use in eye camps in Africa, India, and Eastern Europe.

Through contacts with individuals and charities based in the UK, Chichester Lions make spectacles available for eye-camp projects overseas. Support is also provided for volunteers traveling on Unite For Sight projects who re-use spectacles for their individual projects.

Every year over 300,000 pairs of spectacles are sent to Medico France. Indeed, donations by UK Lions Clubs, recycled through Chichester, account for more than half of the total number of spectacles processed by Medico France.

Lions are grateful to Fraser Freight of Portsmouth for transporting sorted spectacles free of charge to Medico France in Le Havre.

Special thanks are given to The Apuldram Centre for providing Chichester Lions Club with the facilities for its workshop.


Click the links below to download resources:

bottom of page