Categories: Health

Ramadan 2024: Make eye drops a part of your routine: wake, drops, eat, pray, done!

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins Sunday 10 March and ends Monday 8 April, 2024. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until sunset, abstaining from food, drink, smoking, and other physical needs. 

Among the estimated population of 50,000 Muslims living with glaucoma in the UK, research has shown that almost half (45.5%)[1] believe that using eye drops during Ramadan may break the fast, especially when the excess drop drains down the back of the throat and can be tasted. For people who rely on eye drops to manage their glaucoma, this concern can lead to uncertainty about whether using eye drops invalidates the fast. Therefore, they may stop using their drops or take them erratically during the month, risking permanent damage to their vision.

Glaucoma is the name of a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve. The optic nerve transfers visual information from the eye to the brain and if it’s damaged, it can result in sight loss and even blindness. Glaucoma is often caused by a build-up of fluid in the eye. This causes pressure in the eye (called intraocular pressure or IOP) to increase which damages the optic nerve. Eye drops are the most common treatment for glaucoma. They decrease the amount of fluid in the eye, either by increasing the drainage of fluid out of the eye, or by reducing the amount of fluid that is made.

Managing glaucoma eye drops while fasting during Ramadan can be challenging due to these concerns and uncertainties. However, according to the majority of Islamic scholars, eye drops are not considered to break the fast. It’s important for individuals with glaucoma to feel able to consult with religious authorities, healthcare professionals or organisations such as Glaucoma UK for guidance on managing their condition effectively while observing the fast during Ramadan.

A practical way to ensure that eye drop medication stays in your eye and doesn’t reach your throat, is to use punctal occlusion. This involves putting finger pressure at the corner of the eye, next to the nose, immediately after putting in drops and holding this for up to two minutes. This is generally good practice for anyone with glaucoma as it will ensure the eye drop stays in the eye where it can do its job and protect your vision.

For anyone who is still worried about using their eye drops during fasting hours, Glaucoma UK and partner organisations are encouraging them to use their drops between between Iftar and Suhoor.

Anyone can develop glaucoma, but certain groups of people are at a higher risk.

  • Age – Glaucoma becomes more common with age.
  • Ethnicity – People of African-Caribbean origin and people of east Asian origin are at higher risk.
  • Family history – If you have a close blood relative with glaucoma, you are four times more likely to develop the disease.
  • Diabetes – People with diabetes may be at higher risk of developing glaucoma.

Many people with glaucoma may not experience any symptoms in the early stages of the disease. Routine eye tests are crucial to detecting glaucoma at an early stage. If caught early, glaucoma can often be treated and managed effectively, helping to preserve your vision.

Glaucoma UK is working with healthcare professionals and partner organisations to share the Ramadan campaign poster and other campaign materials with their communities to encourage Muslims living with glaucoma to keep using their eye drops during Ramadan. For more information, advice and handy tips, visit: 

[1] [1] Study by St Paul’s Eye Unit in the Royal Liverpool University Hospital

British Muslim Magazine

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