Ramadan and Eye Exams

What is Ramadan?

It is a holy month of fasting, inner reflection and prayer. Ramadan follows the moon phases and is rarely on the same dates each year. In 2017, Ramadan begins in the evening on May 26 and lasts until June 24. Twenty-two percent of the world participates in Ramadan. That is 1.6 billion people. Chances are that you have one or more patients participating in the practices of this holy month.

What type of fasting occurs?

Many people follow the traditional ways of fasting. These include no food or water during the day. In the morning, before sunrise, everyone eats a meal called Suhoor. This is the only food and drink until the large evening meal, Iftar.

How this can affect patient's health?

Often young children, pregnant women, and people with health concerns modify or do not participate in the fasting portion of Ramadan. In particular, patients with diabetes have to prepare for the fast in order to balance their spiritual and physical health.

What should I know about diabetic patients who participate in Ramadan and their eye exams?

Some patients do not want to conduct eye exams during the month. They may try to schedule before or after Ramadan. Some patients can fast safely. For others, general practitioners will consult with the patient and may change medication times and/or dosages for patients who cannot fast safely. Some patients believe that checking blood glucose levels breaks the fast. Ramadan scholars have stated that IT DOES NOT. Eye exams, particularly for diabetics, may have skewed results, due to drastic change in personal habits for this month.

How can Ramadan affect my practice?

As with all patients, balancing spiritual health and physical health are key components. Give your expert opinion in all conversations, but do not be surprised if spiritual leaders are consulted as well. It may be best to schedule patients earlier in the day, closer to their first meal. If you have employees who participate in Ramadan, have a private conversation about how their needs may change during this month. Be sure to balance the needs of your business with their requests.

Happy practicing and Ramadan Mubarak.

Learn more about Ramadan with the below links:

Non-Muslim Guide to Ramadan

7 things your Muslim friends wish you knew about Ramadan

Vox's Guide to Ramadan

I would like to thank Noreen for being my Ramadan consultant. :)