If you’re trying to live a more environmentally conscious lifestyle and you need vision correction, chances are that you have debated on whether you should wear glasses or contacts.
Many people choose to wear eyeglasses because they believe it is better for the environment; however, contact lens companies have made great strides in improving the amount of waste associated with wearing contact lenses. Others choose glasses because they want an option that is more natural for their eyes. While contact lenses are essentially a sheet of plastic, there are some lenses that are better for your eyes than others. In fact, some are comparable to wearing no contact lenses at all.
We know that finding eco-friendly products while keeping your eye health in mind can be difficult, so we have set out to answer your most common questions about waste produced by contact lens wear and which contact lenses are the most natural for your eyes .
Which vision care companies are leading the way in environmentally sustainable practices?
While the original six-pack ACUVUE® container was made of plastic, Vistakon changed it to a more earth-friendly cardboard that is made of 30% post consumer recycled (PCR) materials. Its ACUVUE® OASYS® contacts now use 25% less primary packaging than other leading brands, all while the company has reduced volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions 9 tons annually by adjusting its manufacturing processes.
2. Bausch + Lomb
As the first contact lens manufacturer to introduce an environmentally friendly biodegradable lens shipping package, Bausch + Lomb started and continues to innovate in package design that is nicer to nature. In addition to its 100% recyclable molded paper fiber packaging, it has also taken product design into consideration by creating clear PET packaging for its ReNu solution and adding universally accepted recycling codes to its solution product bottles. The clear packaging makes the ReNu bottles 100% recyclable and integrated recycling codes means that less trash will be going into landfills.
Does wearing contacts significantly increase the amount of waste I’m adding to our environment?
Although wearing contacts does produce waste, studies performed by Johnson & Johnson show that the impact on the environment due to wearing contact lenses – whether the lenses are daily disposables or reusable – is much less than that of other household plastic products disposed of every day. The following information is an excerpt from that study.
- A pair of daily disposable (DD) contact lenses worn 365 days/year produces ~1kg of waste annually.
- Comparatively, reusable contact lenses (RCL) plus care solutions produced 0.84kg of packaging waste yearly.
- Other types of household plastic products discarded each day generated approximately 1.75 to 8 times the waste compared to daily disposable contact lenses.
- Drinking one 591mL (20 oz) bottle of water a day generated 9kg of waste per year.
- One set of plastic cutlery* (~3.5 grams per piece) used each day yielded almost 4 kg of annual waste.
- Individual juice pouches (177 ML, 6 oz) – straw and wrapper included* – consumed one-a-day contributed nearly 2kg of waste annually.
- Aluminum drink cans (12 oz), consumed at a rate of 1 per day resulted in nearly 5.5kg of waste annually.
Which contact lenses are the closest to being natural for my eyes?
While there isn’t an organic option for contact lenses – they are plastic, after all – there are some contacts that are healthier for your eyes.
1. 1-DAY ACUVUE® TruEye® (narafilcon A)
The 1-DAY ACUVUE® TruEye® contact lenses are a daily disposable that is made with silicone hydrogel. Silicone hydrogel contacts are better for your eyes because the silicon allows more oxygen to pass through the lens, giving your eye the full amount of oxygen that it needs. Johnson & Johnson’s unbiased study of the lens showed that, “1-DAY ACUVUE® TruEye® Brand Contact Lenses (narafilcon A) were found to have no clinically significant effect on the ocular surface of the eye as compared to non-contact lens wearers across five of six contact lens related measures associated with eye health … In addition, 1-DAY ACUVUE® TruEye® Brand (narafilcon A) was also shown to provide high levels of comfort from morning to night, comparable to wearing no lenses at all.”
2. Biotrue ONEday
Also a daily disposable, the Biotrue ONEday contacts by Bausch + Lomb are lenses made of a material inspired by your eyes called HyperGel. Not only is the outer surface designed to mimic the lipid layer of tear film to prevent dehydration and maintain consistency, the lenses feature 78% water content – the same as your cornea. This helps to ensure lens comfort throughout the day.
Are there any organic or eco-friendly products you use for your eyes? Tell us in the comments below!