Woman beats eyesight woes to get PhD

2014-04-29 00:00

SHARMLA Rama, who overcame problems with her eyesight to complete a PhD in sociology, credits her supportive family and colleagues for her success.

Rama, who studied at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Pietermaritzburg campus, received her degree at a ceremony on April 14.

The Northdale resident suffers from a condition called keratoconus, which affects the shape of the cornea. Normally, the cornea is rounded, but due to keratoconus the edges sharpen and vision slowly becomes distorted.

Rama was studying for her masters degree when she opted to undergo a corneal graft to help improve her sight. But there was a downside. The treatment meant that she could no longer read her notes.

Rather than let her give up, Rama’s parents, Angie and Victor, and two classmates, Clare Erasmus and Colin Johnson, stepped in and recorded notes for her; and instead of sitting a written exam at the end of the course, the university allowed her to do an oral one instead.

“Doing my masters was quite difficult,” she told The Witness, “but at that point I also had a lot of people telling me to get on with it and not drag it out.”

With her masters done, Rama embarked on a PhD in 2009 and while her sight had improved, she still found completing the degree a challenge.

“The strain of having to read so much meant that I was getting headaches and I had to go and see my optometrist several times to get help,” she said.

“I ended up using a high-definition magnifier to help me to read books, especially those with very fine print, and on the computer I would increase the size of the words in a document to 150% or even 200%.”

She also stressed that she could never have made it through all her years of studying without the support of her parents.

“They have been my strongest supporters and they have been extremely tolerant because doing a PhD takes its toll on a person,” Rama said.

The 41-year-old, who works as a lecturer in sociology at UKZN Pietermaritzburg, is now looking forward to sharing her knowledge with other sociologists at the International Sociological Association World Congress in Yokohama in Japan in June.

“The congress happens every four years and I’m really excited to be going,” said Rama, who matriculated at Northbury Park Secondary School.

“I’m looking forward to meeting people from all over the world and the people of Japan. They are quite a resilient people and showed that they could rebuild after the tsunami [in 2011]. I’m really hoping I can visit some of the sites …”

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


WATCH: Pornhub is giving users free access to premium content this holidays

Christmas is coming a little early this year...


You won't want to miss...

5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
How to open a beer bottle without an opener
WATCH: Man films himself going down water slide upside down as things go very wrong…
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.