Blog : The Greening of Eye Care

By Patrick | Mar 19, 2014 | in

By Michael McCord
Green Alliance Correspondent

When Dr. Sarah Hudson began her career in 1998, sustainability awareness was a non-priority in the eye care industry.

“It didn’t exist. There was no mention of recycling plastic tops and glass vials,” said Hudson, a co-owner of Harbor Eyecare Center in Portsmouth. “There was no thought at all to the excessive waste in packaging. I would say in the last few years there has been a greater awareness. The industry has come a long way and now companies are making concentrated efforts to become greener.”

Harbor Eyecare Center represents the changing times for an optometry practice with an eye on sustainability. Since a comprehensive physical renovation of the practice in 2011, there have been major efficiency upgrades, a full-on recycling program and a focus on sourcing recycled or used office materials. Last year HEC moved directly into the green consumer arena by selling a line of frames from recycled materials.

The next step has been equally significant for Hudson, founding co-owner Dr. Amy Pruszenski and their associate Dr. James Belanger. HEC is the first practice in the Seacoast region to carry the Miru brand of daily disposable contact lenses that combines revolutionary levels of hygiene and sustainability.

“I believe Menicon is the first company to put such a heavy emphasis on the green component,” Hudson said about the Japanese company. “I heard about these at a trade show and met with their representatives who talked about their green approach.”

What makes these daily disposable contact lenses so revolutionary? Hudson said the traditional packaging and boxing has been replaced by an innovative wafer-thin and exceptionally hygienic flat-pack. Miru (which loosely translates as to see or to look in Japanese) was developed for seven years to create the flat-pack which easily shows the wearer the correct side the lens is facing – and reduces most of the risk of touching the inner surface of the lens, making it less likely that skin oil or microorganisms will get trapped between the lens and the wearer’s eye.

“There’s nothing like it on the market,” said Hudson who tested Miru lenses herself. Miru will have an official national roll out in July – they have become popular in Japan where they had an initial roll out last November – but like Hudson, some customers at HEC are already giving them rave reviews for their ease of use and convenient, spill free packaging.

Menicon estimates the Miru brand reduces the carbon footprint by two-thirds compared to other brands in the marketplace:
• The gas and energy saved when shipped due to less packaging material
• All of the packaging is recyclable
• The 30-day supply of lenses are flat-packaged and come in a small compact plastic container that is recycled from the patented molds they use to make the lens

“Their storage and packing for transportation is minimal and the lenses work as promised,” Hudson said. “They are so easy to handle and you only touch the outside of the lens.”

HEC is a member of the Green Alliance, the Portsmouth organization that connects green-driven consumers and businesses. Hudson said the introduction of Miru lenses, recycled frames and other dedicated sustainability practices enhances HEC’s mission to tackle all manner of patient issues that is equal parts friendly and professional. From binocular vision problems in children or post head injury to macular degeneration, glaucoma or eye infections, HEC has redefined the boundaries of a successful practice.

“We know when we make a decision with the patient’s best interest in mind it will always be the right one,” Hudson said. “From there we can extend out and try to be a good member of our community, but it all starts with a healthy respect for those we welcome in as our patients.”

For more information about Harbor Eyecare Center, click here.