Learn how it all started and where our recycling mission is taking us

We have been collecting and sorting used spectacles for almost 35 years. Collecting spectacles for recycling was started as a club activity and Chichester Lions have a fantastic legacy in this project, a club activity as far back as 1967, however it became a major project for the club in 1980 with a delivery of 700 sorted specs to the Missionary Optical Society in Devon for use in their clinics in Kenya and India.

During COVID-19, Vision Action (formerly known as Vision Aid Overseas) closed their spectacles recycling scheme, this meant that Lions Clubs British Isles became the largest organisation in the United Kingdom to recycle spectacles. To respond to the increased demand of people wanting to recycle spectacles we opened a second recycling centre at Lions National Headquarters in Birmingham in October 2022.

Today we receive used spectacles from not just Lions clubs but members of the public as well. Spectacles are delivered to us in boxes and bags of all shapes and sizes and are processed by a fantastic team of volunteers. We use our considerable experience to select the items that are suitable for recycling and to sort them in preparation for distribution abroad. The lack of spectacles denies children and adults opportunities for education, employment and a better quality of life.

An estimated 120 million people are visually impaired because of uncorrected refractive errors (far and near sightedness).

Almost all cases can be corrected and normal vision can be restored with eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery. That’s why this project is so important to Lions members throughout the world.