Muslims risk losing their sight if they give up their eye drops during daylight hours in Ramadan
Ramadan 2018: Glaucoma patients should continue with eye drops when fasting
Doctors are offering advice to Muslims to continue taking eye-drops during Ramadan following recommendations from the International Glaucoma Association.
Eye specialists have raised concerns that some people stop their glaucoma drops during Ramadan, leading to irreversible sight loss.
The disease that damages the optic nerve can lead to loss of sight or blindness.
As liquid can travel to the throat via tear ducts to the back of the eye, the IGA said some Muslim patients stop taking their eye drops during periods of fasting.
Experts claim this is unnecessary since the religious injunctions do not forbid taking eye treatment during fasting.
They have urged patients to continue taking medication during the holy month.
“Glaucoma patients should continue to use the eye drops during Ramadan for optimal control of the disease,” said Dr Raeba Mathew, Specialist Ophthalmologist, Medical Retina Specialist, Canadian Specialist Hospital.
“Most of the drops are used twice a day or once a day and can still be continued during Ramadan.”
The eye pressure may rise when the drops are not instilled at proper intervals. Fluctuations in the eye pressure can cause further damage to the optic nerve of the eyes.
Doses of eye drops vary from once a day to three times a day.
Doctors have offered advice on how to close the tear duct by pressing a finger against the corner of the eye, so patients can continue taking their drops during daylight hours.
“The main concern with using eye drops is the passage of part of the drops to the nose and throat from the eye,” said Dr Mathew.
“This can be avoided by exerting pressure with the fingertip on the inner part of the eyelids close to the nose for half a minute after instillation of the drop.”
The IGA is working with religious community leaders and with hospital eye departments to raise awareness of this issue.
In partnership with the Muslim Council of Britain, the IGA works with all professionals involved in glaucoma management to educate about the need for good eye drop use and compliance.
“If people are still doubtful about taking eye drops during fasting, we advise that morning drops can be taken during dawn meal (suhoor) and evening drops can be taken during sunset (iftar) – this is much better than stopping drops,” said a spokesperson for the IGA.