At the birth of their child, Tabitha and Josh Goodlet were greeted by a beautiful baby girl. Holding their wide-eyed, smiling newborn, they knew their family was finally complete.
The Goodlets watched as Bianca's curious eyes moved around from side to side, taking in her new surroundings. It's not unusual for a newborn's eyes to wander, but with Bianca, something seemed different. Her eyes would drift inward. Tabitha recognized the same problem that she saw her brother and nephew experience.
"It was harder for Josh to understand why this was happening," says Tabitha. "He was so upset at first, he would say, 'This is a brand new baby, there should be nothing wrong with her.'"
At six months old, Bianca's eyes still had not corrected. The Goodlets met with pediatric ophthalmologist Edward Cheeseman, M.D., USC department of ophthalmology, who confirmed their suspicions. Bianca was diagnosed with strabismus, a condition in which the eyes have difficulty working together to align properly. The problem was not with her vision, but rather her brain's inability to control the movement of both eyes at the same time.
Seeing what her brother and nephew had gone through, Tabitha understood the importance of early detection and treatment. If a child with strabismus does not get proper treatment, as the child learns to see, the eye that is crossed will send a blurred image to the brain. The brain will then discard the faulty image and the child will eventually stop using the weak eye without even realizing it. Over time the child can become blind in the eye that is not being used.
"It's heartbreaking to see a child go through that, but I'm thankful this is something that can be treated," says Tabitha. "There are a lot of children with this problem and many parents just don't know who to turn to, but I always tell them, as soon as you notice there's a problem, do something about it. If you wait, it's your child that is going to suffer."
Bianca had her first eye surgery when she was only a year old. The Goodlets noticed immediate improvements. Not long after her surgery, Bianca finally started to crawl.
Even with surgery, Bianca still needs glasses to help her eyes stay straight. "People would come up to us at the store and ask what was wrong with her and why she was wearing glasses at such a young age," says Tabitha. "My husband would get so upset but I would just tell him, 'People are just trying to understand it, a lot of people don't know about strabismus.'"
Every six months Bianca visits Dr. Cheeseman to ensure she has the right prescription and check her progress. "Her muscles have gotten a lot stronger, so she has more control over her eye movement," says Tabitha. "Dr. Cheeseman is an amazing doctor and I would recommend him to anyone."
Right before her fifth birthday, Bianca had her second, and what they hoped to be her last, eye surgery. Tabitha says, "When they took her out of my arms, I was crying and then she was crying. As a mother, I wanted to go through it for her and take her place."
When the Goodlets look at their beautiful daughter, they are reminded of how blessed they are to have such a wonderful child and are thankful for the care they received from Dr. Cheeseman and his staff at Palmetto Health Children's Hospital. Now five years old, Bianca hasn't let strabismus hold her back from enjoying being a kid. With two new pairs of glasses, Bianca loves admiring her stylish frames in front of the mirror and is proud to show them off to the world.