In an effort to raise awareness of the vital importance of our oceans and the major role they play in our everyday lives, 8th June has been labelled World Oceans Day. With marine plastic pollution quickly becoming one of the most pressing environmental issues, having a devastating impact on our wildlife, ecosystems, and economies - people are now starting to wake up to the fact that they need to make more informed choices in order to preserve healthy oceans.
More than 800 species of marine animals are affected by plastic waste, which is now one of the most prominent threats to marine ecosystems. Each year, up to 12.7 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean, and this number is predicted to increase steadily as plastic production continues to rise.1 As healthy and resilient oceans are crucial to life on Earth, feeding billions of people and providing 80% of the world's biodiversity2, experts are urging people to start making small changes to their daily routine to help protect and restore our oceans.
While contact lens waste might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of plastic pollution, research actually suggests that of the 780 million plastic contact lenses that are used by wearers in the UK, 97% damage the environment through uncontrolled disposal3. Hundreds of millions of lenses and their packaging are frequently flushed down the drain, entering into our water systems or end up in landfill. As many of these lenses end up in our oceans, where they break down into smaller particles and ultimately form microplastics, they now pose a severe threat to marine life.
In order to effectively address the increasingly widespread issue of marine plastic pollution, it’s crucial that people start to rethink their behaviours and this includes contact lens use. At Optical Express, we have introduced a contact lens recycling scheme that can be accessed by any of the 4.2 million contact lens wearers in the UK4, not just Optical Express patients. More than 100 clinics across the UK and Ireland now offer recycling facilities where discarded contact lenses and their packaging can be recycled in order to avoid them ending up in landfill or polluting our oceans.
But recycling is only a small part of the solution, besides encouraging people to dispose of their contact lenses responsibly, at Optical Express we aim to educate the public on alternative vision correction solutions in order to help them make more informed and sustainable choices. Laser eye surgery or intraocular lens surgery are long-term options that can provide you with complete freedom from your glasses and contact lenses, giving you visual freedom while helping to reduce your environmental footprint. By educating people on the detrimental impact their contact lenses are having, as well as on the alternative vision correction choices that are available, we hope to inspire small changes that can help protect our oceans for future generations.
So, this World Oceans Day, we urge everyone to take responsibility and explore how our personal decisions are affecting the environment. A healthy planet needs a healthy ocean, but our waters face huge risks from plastic pollution – which is quickly becoming one of the biggest threats to sea life. Through actions such as disposing of our contact lenses responsibly, or by considering more sustainable alternatives such as laser eye or intraocular lens surgery, we can help reduce the widespread damage that contact lenses and glasses have been causing for decades.
If you are looking for a more sustainable vision correction solution, then don’t hesitate and book your free consultation at Optical Express now. Our teams at more than 100 clinics across the UK and Ireland can discuss alternative options that provide you with excellent vision while helping to reduce your environmental footprint.
1UN World Ocean Assessment 2021
2 National Geographic One Ocean 2012
3 Optical Express Survey of Contact Lens Users