Geraldine Knight suffered for years from an undiagnosed thyroid condition. Dealing with extreme fatigue and weight loss, one of Geraldine’s worst symptoms was known as Graves’ ophthalmopathy, which causes the eyes to bulge out significantly.
“It was hard. Not only could the doctors not find out what was wrong with me, but I would go out to shop and children would stare or point because of how bulging my eyes had gotten.”
The symptom affected not only her eyes’ appearance, but caused dry eye and a decrease in tear production. The side effects made it hard for her to enjoy many of her hobbies – reading, knitting, making jewelry – because they all involve visual concentration.
Normally very outgoing, Geraldine began to retreat more and more into her home, all the while hoping her doctors could find some cure for her ailments. Finally, after more than a decade, she was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, and medication helped put her life back on track.
She needed to have reconstructive surgery that would rebuild her eyelids to reverse the years of effects of her disease. "I was very surprised when I was told that reconstructive surgery was an option. I thought I would have to live the rest of my life with the eye condition."
“I suppose I thought they would use something synthetic for the procedure. But when I visited the doctor he said they would use sclera – the white part of the eye – from a donor.”
Her surgery was a success, and Geraldine regained the busy social life she had once had.
“It was a huge boost to my confidence. But it was also so touching to know that it was possible only because of donated tissue. Shortly after my surgery, I signed an eye, tissue, and organ donation card, and encouraged my friends and family to do the same.”