COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A Columbus State University student recently underwent her 25th eye surgery at Emory University in Atlanta.
Born with congenital glaucoma, Tiana Gates’ parents faced doctors telling them that, at just 3-days-old, their daughter would be legally blind for the rest of her life.
But after 25 surgeries, Tiana is doing better than most people with her condition.
Tiana’s mother said that her vision is very limited and she could go blind at any time.
“She’s had tubal removal, she’s had tubal implants,” said Terri Gates. “So she does have glaucoma valves in both eyes, they have removed all the lenses in both eyes. She’s had a full cornea transplant from an eye donor that lasted about ten years.”
Certified Ophthalmic Technician and LASIK Coordinator at West Georgia Eye Care Center Misty Kearney said, "It seems most likely what has occurred is that the back layer of the cornea, which is called the endothelium has probably been damaged either from pressure to the eye...and if the cornea fills with fluid, it becomes cloudy, so she needs a new set of cells that will act as that pumping action for the cornea.
Tiana was born legally blind with negative 2100 vision in one eye and negative 2200 in the other. Her first surgery coming at just six-days-old.
“The part that gets to me every time the most is when I’m getting ready to go back to the operating room and they say, ‘Well tell your family your goodbyes and give them hugs and kisses,'" said Tiana.
Tiana says that she makes the best of her situation because she can be a representation to show you can come through anything and go through anything.
“I’ve been through a lot and just for me to be able to stand up now and give my story to help inspire and change somebody else just makes me very happy and I want to be an advocate to show that you can through anything but it’s up to you to take that little grain of salt and have the faith of a mustard seed,” said Tiana.
Tiana is on track to achieving her dream of becoming a math teacher after passing her Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators this week.