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Graduate qualifies after blindness threatens her dentistry dream

Author: Harriet Box

Janke Jacobs from Durbanville beat the odds to graduate with a degree in dentistry.

(Published - 13 December 2019)

Dentistry student Janke Jacobs was in her second year when she noticed blind spots in her field of vision. 

After three months of tests and being administered the wrong medication, she was diagnosed with ocular tuberculosis. The condition causes inflammation in the eye and disturbance of one’s vision.

For seven months she was treated with TB medication. Her diagnosis left her fearful, frustrated and uncertain because her dream of becoming a dentist hung in the balance.

“My practicals were a challenge. I had to retrain my eyes to be able to perform the normal dentistry tasks and had to learn how to be patient with myself,” said Jacobs.

 

“Needless to say, I started reconsidering dentistry. Since people don’t like going to the dentist, I figured being a blind one, would make matters substantially worse. I was so scared that I wouldn’t be able to finish the degree that I have grown so fond of so quickly.”

Now completely recovered, she proudly received her degree in Dentistry from the University of the Western Cape (UWC) at her graduation ceremony on Friday.

“In retrospect, I realise this experience of hardship has taught me persistence and patience, but most importantly, it taught me an ability to relate to frustrated patients waiting to be diagnosed. 

This experience made me realise how complex it can be to treat someone holistically,” she said.

“I can truly only give glory to God that I can function normally. Despite the challenges, I am grateful for becoming a more well-rounded human being and practitioner. It truly shifted my perspective and it is such a huge part of who I am today.” 


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