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

(Republished by kind permission of Eyenews, the original article can be found here, where a download version is available)

eye drops at Ramadan

During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast during daylight hours, abstaining from food and drink between dawn and sunset each day. Ramadan 2021 starts on 12 April and ends around 11 May, depending on the first appearance of the moon around this date.

For those with medical conditions, safe fasting is a contentious issue. While the Quran allows for those who are unwell to refrain from fasting, or fast when they are recovered, those with chronic conditions face potentially difficult choices, to strike the balance between the Islamic obligation to fast and the requirement to manage their condition safely.

Eye drops and Ramadan

For Muslims with glaucoma, the salient question is whether eye drops constitute food or drink. Because the excess drop drains down the tear duct and into the throat and can often be tasted, some worry that using eye drops breaks the fast. Between 46 and 64% of Muslims believe that using eye drops invalidates the fast [1-2]. As a result, they may stop using their eye drops during fasting hours, or stop using them completely. Once the habit of daily instillation is broken, some may struggle with re-establishing an adherent routine, resulting in progression of the glaucoma between appointments.

IGA campaign: wake, drops, eat, pray, done!

The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) runs an annual campaign, in collaboration with the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) regarding using eye drops during the month of Ramadan. The focus of the campaign is to provide information and reassurance to Muslims regarding the use of eye drops while fasting and to provide practical advice to ensure adherence during a busy time when schedules are disrupted.

The key messages of the campaign are:

This year, the IGA has produced a series of short films to help promote the message and provide advice. The film will be promoted via social media and through partner networks, including MCB, the Muslim Doctors Association and the British Islamic Medical Association. Watch a short clip at the bottom of this article for more information. There is also a poster available for download to put in waiting rooms, pharmacies and other suitable places to remind people of the need to continue using their eye drops during Ramadan, although we recognise with the current situation it may be difficult to display this.

  

Do eye drops constitute food or drink?

Almost certainly no. MCB confirms that according to the major Shi’a and Sunni legal schools, eye drops are not considered to be a cause of breaking the fast.

While clinicians are not qualified to give religious advice, it is important that they are aware of pertinent religious and cultural factors that influence the choices that their patients make. We hope that clinicians can signpost patients to appropriate individuals or organisations of religious authority who are able to address their concerns.

Practical tips for Muslims with glaucoma

     

References

1. Kumar N, Dherani M, Jivan S. Ramadan and eye-drops: perspective of Muslims in the UK. Br J Ophthalmol 2009;93:551-2.
2. Kumar N, Jivan S. Ramadan and Eyedrops: The Muslim Perspective. Ophthalmology 2007;114:2356-60.