By Sarah Francis
A woman who had a rare condition that made eyes bulge has had surgery to save her sight – and help her love her appearance again.
Muni Abubakar, 34, from Los Angeles, California suffers from Graves’ Disease, an autoimmune condition which causes swelling of the tissues around the eyes.
She was left feeling ‘deformed’ after her eyes were pushed forward and protruded from their sockets.
The stunning woman said children were afraid of her while strangers ridiculed her.
After being warned the swelling could cause cancer, Muni had multiple surgeries to correct her eyes.
Now, as she learns to accept her appearance, Muni shares her story with the hope of helping others battling the disease.
Muni, who work as an insurance professional, said: “One of the hardest things about having this disease is the fact that it attacked my eyes.
“Even though through the years my thyroid had been more stable than not, my eyes continued to protrude.
“This was very emotional for me as it got to the point where people would stare at me and laugh or ask me what was wrong with my eyes.
“What was even worse was that children would notice instantly and sometimes be afraid of me.
“My eyes would feel extremely dry and I always felt like my eyes were swollen.
“I became very emotional about my change in appearance.”
Muni first noticed something was wrong with her health as a student in her early twenties.
She said: “I couldn’t focus at school and I was tired all the time. I’m talking extreme fatigue.
“I started developing poor eating habits and was drinking tea, energy drinks and soda every day in an attempt to gain energy and get through my day.
“My peers, as well as myself, noticed that I was very moody.
“One minute I would be extremely nice and caring and the next minute I would be very distant and irritable.
“I also started having heart palpitations. Sometimes they would be so strong I would be close to passing out.”
It was a heart palpitation while driving that led her directly to the emergency room.
Blood tests revealed elevated thyroid levels and she recalled a comment from her eye doctor two years prior.
She said: “My eye doctor asked if I had thyroid disease because my eyes appeared to protrude.
“I told her that larger eyes were a family trait. I wasn’t familiar with thyroid disease at the time.
“But now that I was in the emergency room I thought maybe I had this diagnosis for the last two years or maybe even longer.”
It was 2008 when Muni was finally diagnosed with Grave’s disease by an endocrinologist.
After being warned the protrusion could cause glaucoma, she decided to have Orbital Decompression (OD) in 2014 as a protective measure.
And in 2015, she had a lid retraction to adjust her eyelids.
She said:”It was one of the best decisions I could have made.
“The surgery not only helped me to look physically better but I also noticed the pressure behind my eyes wasn’t as bad.
“I still feel like I don’t look like myself but I’m ok with that for now.
“I have learned so much about my body after being diagnosed with this disease.
“I may have another eye surgery in the future depending on if my thyroid gets out of whack again and my eyes get worse.”
Muni has decided to share her story to help other Graves’ survivors.
She said:”I realised after reading articles on the disease and seeing others share their story I could do the same.
“Sometimes we just need to know that we are not alone. This disease is not talked about a lot and it’s easy to feel alone.”