If you wear contacts, you've probably dropped one in the sink at some point and maybe you just turned the water to flush it down the drain. Or maybe you're in the 15-20% of contact users that constantly throw out their contact lenses in the sink or toilet. New research was presented at the annual American Chemistry Society showing this disturbing finding.
According to the study, about 45 million Americans wear contact lenses and of them, 15 million wear daily disposable lenses - soft plastic discs that get worn once and then are thrown away. They estimate about six to ten metric tons of plastic contact lenses are ending up in U.S. wastewater plants every year. Contacts flushed down the drain do not biodegrade. Instead, they fragment and depending on water density they can end up in the surface water or sink to the bottom and get ingested by bottom-feeding fish.
This habit is adding to the already enormous problem of plastic pollution in our waters. If you're guilty of dumping your contacts down the drain every day, start putting them in the regular trash. Better yet, recycle them if possible. The American Optometric Association recommends recycling contact lenses if your town allows for it. You can also check with your contact maker, as some companies have a specific recycling program you can partake in.
Of course, there is always the option of wearing glasses to cut down on your plastic footprint, decrease your risk of developing eye infections and save some money over time.