The real A-level winners: He scores 3As despite serious eye condition

PHOTO: The real A-level winners: He scores 3As despite serious eye condition

SINGAPORE - He needs special tools to be able to study - a pocket-sized magnifying glass, a hand-held electronic magnifier and a bulkier video magnifier.

Mr Aloysius Lim, 19, a student from the Millennia Institute, relies on these instruments daily to read and write.

He has an inherited eye condition called Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy.

It affects the central vision, making reading normal-sized text difficult, if not impossible.

"When studying, I need a magnifier to see a larger size of text. I also need more time to go through the materials," he explained.

Spectacles cannot help. Mr Lim uses the magnifying glass and electronic magnifier for his reading in class, and the bulkier video magnifier for writing and drawing at home and during exams.

There are other challenges. Every day when he goes to school, he has difficulty boarding the correct bus, because he is unable to see the numbers clearly.

Mr Lim was diagnosed with the condition when he was 13. His older brother and uncle also suffer from the same condition.

Because of his condition, Mr Lim said that to study and prepare for the examinations, he took twice as long as his peers did.

When he took his A levels last year, he was given extra time to complete his papers.

The teen's hard work and perseverance has paid off. He received his A-level results on Friday and scored three As in H1 Chinese, H1 Mathematics and H2 Accounting.

Form teacher Sathiabhavani Pillai said his good results were not unexpected. 

"He's very responsible and diligent. Seeing the way he has coped in classes, his performance is very remarkable," she said.

Despite his condition, Mr Lim's side vision is not affected - he can actually see more clearly from the sides.

The teen goes for annual medical checkups and said doctors told him his condition has now stabilised.

Losing his eyesight

Started in Primary 6

Mr Lim remembers the time when he first noticed there was something amiss with his sight.

He was in Primary 6, and had noticed a deterioration in the vision of his left eye.

Despite being seated in the front row in class, he could not see what was written on the whiteboard clearly. A visit to the doctor confirmed his worst fears.

"I was quite worried then because I knew it had something to do with genetics," he said.

He recounted how his peers in secondary school would poke fun at him because of the special tools he needed for reading.

But seven years later, Mr Lim said he has accepted his condition. When he was younger, he would watch how his brother used the same tools for reading and writing.

Miss Pillai said teachers and classmates were always willing to help him out.

When it comes to class notes, she made sure to print in a larger font size and on A3 paper.

"He's quiet, but has a warm personality. Even though he knows that help is always available for him, he prefers to be independent," she said.

Mr Lim, who is exempted from National Service because of his condition, intends to pursue a degree in accounting at a local university.

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