For Jennifer Tsai, OD, owner and founder of Line of Sight in New York, sustainability is all about “minimizing environmental impact as a retail practice while still prioritizing patient ocular health.” For Dr. Tsai and her staff, this means implementing energy-saving measures like LED lighting, using washable drinking cups instead of plastic bottles, recycling materials, cutting down on all forms of paper, purchasing from sustainable companies, and partnering with eyecare recycling programs.

Jennifer Tsai, OD

Dr. Tsai has also noticed a growing interest in sustainability from her patients, who have started shopping around to find both the products and the providers who are willing to implement sustainability initiatives in their practices.

“I’ve noticed that patients are becoming more informed and conscious consumers, and they are starting to prioritize sustainability when making decisions about their eyecare products and even providers,” Dr. Tsai said. “Our patients are more willing to participate in recycling their contact lens waste and used eyewear frames and bringing them to drop off at our practice.”

She also noted the eyecare industry as a whole has moved more in the direction of sustainability. “There's definitely been a growing awareness of sustainability within the eyecare industry in recent years. Eyewear brands are responding to this by using more sustainable materials in their frames and packaging, in addition to environmentally friendly manufacturing processes. Contact lens companies have initiated recycling programs for used contact lenses, cases, bottles and packaging materials.”

Climate change is an area where Dr. Tsai believes sustainability plays an important role in combating related eye conditions. She noted that climate change can impact eye health by worsening conditions like dry eye syndrome and allergic conjunctivitis, due to changes in temperature and pollen distribution. She also warned that increased UV radiation from climate change can potentially lead to concerns like macular degeneration and cataract formation. Finally, she said, extreme weather events can cause physical eye injuries, corneal abrasions, and changing disease patterns may affect eye health.

“Climate change is a high priority for our interest in sustainability initiatives due to the understanding that it can exacerbate eye and health conditions, such as dry eyes, contact lens discomfort and ocular allergies. Overall, climate change sustainability efforts help us engage with our local community as well as support each other in the neighborhood.”