A teenager who is battling blindness is determined to lead as normal a life as he can and make it big in the business world.
Pleckgate High School student Aman Raja, 16, suffers from autoimmune hypersensitivity blepharo Keratoconjunctivitis with neovascularization.
It’s a rare condition which Aman was diagnosed with aged three but then it was a waiting game as to when Aman would go blind – and unfortunately four years ago, he lost most of his sight.
Aman has won praise from staff at Pleckgate for the way he has kept smiling through what has been a tough, painful illness, with at least 10 operations on his eyes.
“It started when I got a cyst on my eye when I was three,” said Aman. “It was putting pressure on my eye and then I went to the doctors who referred me straight to hospital where I had an operation and was diagnosed.
“It was then a waiting game as I always knew I would go blind but it was a case of when. It was something I had to live with. Around four years ago, I woke up and everything was fuzzy.
“I wasn’t sure what was happening but I couldn’t see the equations in maths. From then on, it’s got worse. I can see hand movements but not a lot else.
“It’s hard as I used to love reading but that’s stopped. I did listen to audio books but they sent me to sleep!”
“It’s been tough as he couldn’t do simple things like put together Lego,” said his mum Asma. “He used to get frustrated playing with his cousins but he has learnt how to adapt.
“He is in a lot of pain at times and we have to travel to London to Moorfield, the eye specialist hospital, around once every three weeks although it has been weekly at times.
“He has had to have a lot of operations, emergency ones as well to save his eyes, and he is on medication for the pain as well.
“But Aman has never stopped smiling, he has kept his sense of humour, he likes a joke and is a technological whizz around the house. However, he still has to lay the table and tidy his bedroom!
“He will not let it beat him.
“We have had to revise a few things. When he started at Pleckgate he was in the lowest sets but by the end of Year Seven he was in the top sets and academically we all had high hopes for him.
“As his condition worsened he had to take time off for operations, he had a corneal transplant, and then he wasn’t allowed out which was hard for him.
“He didn’t sit his GCSEs due to how much time he had off school but Pleckgate have been superb. They have supported him, he has learnt braille and touch typing and had a teaching assistant to help him in lessons.
“He wanted to work in a pharmacy but had to change his career plans and his immediate plan is going to Blackburn College to study a BTEC in Business.”
“My friends have been great,” said Aman. “They have been really supportive and helped me through it. It can be frustrating but I have had to learn how to adapt.
“I have a fitting for my glasses which tells me if someone is close or translates words for me. I also used to play cricket for Lancashire Lions Visually Impaired Team and I hope to go back to doing that soon.
“I feel gutted I didn’t sit my GCSE exams but there was too much work to make up and, with my BTEC in business, I will do my English and maths and I hope to go on and study business and law in the future.
“I went to the prom though and am keen to join a gym – I just need a friend to take me! – and I want to do well in the future. I want to lead as normal a life as I can and be successful.”
Janet Knowles, the SENCO at Pleckgate, worked closely with Aman for the last five years.
She said: “Aman is an inspiration to everyone who has worked with him at Pleckgate. He is pleasant, hard-working and witty, with a great sense of humour.
“It would have been very easy for Aman to use his eye condition and his constant pain and discomfort as an excuse not to put the effort in at school.
“Instead of this though, he worked exceptionally hard, climbing up through the sets until he had reached the top. It has been hard for us at times watching Aman suffer and I can’t even begin to imagine what it has been like for him, but in five years he has never once complained.
“I know Aman’s work ethic and determination will ensure that he is successful in the future.”