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Ramadan and glaucoma

lantern, drink and dates

Published on 06 April 2021 04:25 PM

Glaucoma UK urges Muslims with glaucoma to continue using eye drops during Ramadan.

Glaucoma UK, in partnership with the Muslim Council of Britain, is urging Muslims with glaucoma to prevent irreversible damage to their sight by continuing to use their eye drops during Ramadan. Muslims will fast between dawn and sunset during the holy month of Ramadan, which will run from 12 April to 12 May 2021. 

An estimated 50,000 Muslims in the UK have glaucoma. Research has shown that almost half (45.5%) 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.

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve. Most people experience no symptoms in the early stages and the only way to know if someone has the disease is to have an eye test. If left untreated, glaucoma will lead to irreversible sight loss and even blindness.

Everyone will have different treatments prescribed to suit their different glaucoma needs, but most people will be prescribed eye drops. These are used to control the pressure in the eyes and reduce the progression of the glaucoma over time, but are only effective with regular use.

Joanna Bradley, Head of Support Services at Glaucoma UK, says: “As eye drops are not considered food or drink by Sunni or Shi’a schools, they don’t break your fast. It is vital that Muslims keep using their eye drops to treat their glaucoma during Ramadan, as stopping even for a short period could cause irreversible damage to their sight. Our message is for Muslims to make eye drops part of their Ramadan routine: wake, drops, eat, pray, done!”

Glaucoma UK is sharing tips on what people who are fasting can do, should they need extra reassurance.
The first is for individuals to block their tear duct by pressing on the corner of their eye next to their nose immediately after putting in their eye drops. This stops the drops from reaching the back of the throat and keeps them in the eye where they need to be. The second is for those who are fasting to put in their drops before suhoor and after iftar.

To emphasise the importance of using glaucoma eye drops during Ramadan, the charity has produced a short film in partnership with the Muslim Council of Britain. The film features religious leaders and eye health care professionals, and includes hints and tips to help people who are fasting to remember their eye drops during Ramadan.

Glaucoma UK will also be hosting a special digital glaucoma support group in Urdu during Ramadan, titled ‘Glaucoma and eye drops’.

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The webinar, which will be held on 5 May, is aimed at people who will be fasting during Ramadan and will feature a talk by an Urdu-speaking glaucoma specialist.

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