Piles of old eyeglasses that would otherwise wind up in the local landfill are being recycled for use by others in an emergency.
A partnership between the city and Direct Relief International saves landfill space and helps aid the sight of disaster victims.
"There really isn't a thrift store or service club that does this type of service," said Jay Duncan, recycling specialist for the city. "And Direct Relief does have volunteer optometrists who screen the glasses to make sure you get the right prescription you need--it's not like taking the glasses and passing them out during an emergency."
Founded in 1948, the Santa Barbara-based organization recycles eyeglasses for use by charitable health centers in more than 40 countries. The cooperation between Oxnard's Solid Waste Division and Direct Relief began about two months ago.
Trained volunteers use a lens analyzer to code each pair of donated glasses according to the prescription and degree of correction. The code allows health care workers to properly match the glasses with recipients who can use them.
"We have mountains of glasses coming our way and we're way behind, and we can't send them out until we know the prescriptions," said Janet Reineck, development coordinator for Direct Relief.
Old sunglasses are used for people who have had cataract surgery and are sensitive to light.
"It's a neat way to reuse something that folks have in their desk drawers, and they build up because they tend to change their prescription on a regular basis," Duncan said. "It's just another way for us to do resource recovery."
Donations of old eyeglasses and sunglasses are accepted 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays at Del Norte Recycling station's Buyback Center, 111 S. Del Norte Blvd., Camarillo. For information, call Direct Relief at 964-6747.