• Sharing Mayo Clinic

    Sharing Mayo Clinic: An eye on the future

Editor's note: This story was written by patient Marge Cabanski.

I am Marge Cabanski, and at 74 years old in November 2020, I began experiencing eye irritation. It was diagnosed as Graves' disease. Though I had had my thyroid irradiated in 2017, an autoimmune reaction within my body led to a further diagnosis of severe thyroid eye disease.

By May 2021, my eyesight had deteriorated to the extent that I couldn't drive, read or identify colors, and the simplest of life's daily tasks had become difficult. I felt that I was going blind.

Treatment with my local ophthalmologist and appointments with several endocrinologists were not helping. My primary care physician suggested that I consider Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for treatment.

My first visit to Mayo was a full day of testing, and meeting one on one with what became my Mayo team: Endocrinologist Dr. Marius Stan, Ophthalmologists Dr. Lilly Wagner, Dr. Erick Bothun and Dr. Ahmed Sheikh, and Otolaryngologist ― Head and Neck Surgeons, Drs. Janalee Stokken and Linda Yin.

Their approach was to test for what they knew would be helpful in diagnosing and treating my thyroid eye disease, meeting with me one on one, answering all my questions and concerns, and coming up with a plan. As I got to know my team, my confidence grew, and the knowledge I gained was empowering.

The initial treatments with high doses of steroids had no effect in calming my thyroid eye disease. My eyes were bulging, and they were swollen and inflamed. My blurred vision, which was already bad, worsened. I had double vision and significant pain, and I was frightened.

During a return visit several weeks after my initial visit, I met with my Mayo team. Ultimately, I chose to have orbital decompression surgery.

Drs. Stokken and Yin performed the delicate three-hour surgery at Mayo Clinic Hospital ― Rochester, Saint Marys Campus. Several hours after the surgery, my eyesight was restored. It was like a miracle, making me able to immediately read an eye chart and identify colors. And although my double vision was not eliminated, I have been able to read, drive and enjoy all that life has to offer.

I will return to see Dr. Wagner for a checkup in the spring. I will schedule a surgery to realign my eyes to eliminate the double vision. I hope to return to hiking on uneven ground and kayaking, and the active lifestyle I so enjoy.

My lasting impression of Mayo Clinic is how coordinated my team worked for me and how caring each doctor was in presenting me with all the information I needed to confidently make decisions. I am so thankful I found Mayo Clinic.