Ramadan: Don't stop eye drop medication

Ramadan and when to take eye drop medicationThe Muslim Council of Britain working with the International Glaucoma Association (IGA) strongly recommends not to stop glaucoma eye drop medication during Ramadan.

The International Glaucoma Association (IGA), working in partnership with the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), has launched a campaign to help advise fasting Muslims how to manage eye drops through the month of Ramadan. This is based on reports we have received indicating many Muslim glaucoma patients stopped taking eye drops throughout the month, fearing it nullifies the fast. Sadly subsequent appointments at their ophthalmologist or optometrist show that their vision has been damaged.

We and MCB advise:

·         Continue taking drops throughout Ramadan. All Islamic Schools Of Thought agree that taking eye drops does not invalidate the fast unless the eye drops reach the throat, which is unlikely.

·         Practise punctal occlusion: Close the tear duct by putting finger pressure at the corner of the eye next to the nose immediately after putting drops in. This prevents the drops reaching the back of the throat and being tasted

Punctal occlusion 

·         If still doubtful, take drops before suhoor (dawn) and after iftar (dusk).

We have also produced flyers and a series of posters with this information in the following languages:

which will be distributed to mosques, pharmacies and hospitals and are available to order here. We are also working with the British Islamic Medical Association, Muslim Doctors and Dentists UK and Muslim Doctors Association, who are helping to distribute our message.

We’ve also worked with the Health and Race Equality Forum (HAREF), in Newcastle, to provide a Ramadan calendar. As well as providing daily prayer and fasting times, this calendar contains our advice on using eye drops while Ramadan, and advice on healthy eating for those with diabetes. The calendars are distributed via mosques and community organisations in the North East of England.

Glaucoma is the second leading causes of blindness worldwide. It is a group of eye conditions in which the optic nerve is damaged, causing irreversible loss of vision. There are no early symptoms of glaucoma, so regular eye health checks are recommended, particularly for those over the age of 40. With early diagnosis and treatment, most people with glaucoma retain useful sight for life. If you are concerned about glaucoma, call our helpline, Sightline, on 01233 64 81 70.

In summary:

  1. Do not stop eye drops during Ramadan- all Schools of Thought support this

  2. If you are still doubtful, use morning drops at Suhoor and evening drops at Iftar

  3. Try practicing punctual occlusion following instillation of drops

The IGA is working with religious community leaders and with hospital eye departments to raise awareness of this issue.

The IGA works with all professionals involved in glaucoma management to educate about the need for good eye drop use and compliance. We help to set up local patient support groups within hospitals and have some simple tips and films available on our website.