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Some people say things happen for you, not to you. This is what Jack learned when he found out he was living with progressive keratoconus. After his diagnosis and treatment with the iLink® FDA-approved cross-linking procedure, Jack decided to pursue a career that specializes in diagnosing and treating keratoconus. Today, as Jack enters his third year of optometry school at Indiana University (IU), he is continuing to learn about keratoconus and hopes to one day educate his patients about this progressive disease and the available treatment options.

Witnessing the Changes

Growing up in Chicago, Jack loved baseball. He began playing at a young age and continued to play throughout high school. Jack’s passion for the game was undeniable, but he quickly realized his ability to hit the ball was declining as he was struggling to see clearly. Realizing his eyesight was becoming a problem, Jack visited the eye doctor and was prescribed glasses. However, he only wore the glasses on occasion in class to help him see the board.

Despite his vision issues, Jack graduated high school and was accepted into Indiana University School of Optometry. Jack was excited to pursue his passion and dive into his studies, but there was one issue: his vision was worsening. He went from periodically using his glasses to now relying heavily on them to see the board. During class one day, Jack was scheduled to have a retinoscopy done by another student. The student performing the exam was having difficulty getting a good read on Jack’s eye and alerted the professor realizing that something might be wrong. As the professor took a closer look, they realized that Jack may have keratoconus and recommended he see an eye doctor for a comprehensive exam.

A Sudden Discovery

Not thinking much of it, Jack visited Dr. Katie Connolly at the Atwater Eyecare Center, IU’s own optometric clinic. There, he was diagnosed with progressive keratoconus. Jack shared this unexpected news with his family and was shocked to discover that his father was also living with the disease. After connecting the dots and researching more about keratoconus, Jack and his family learned that keratoconus could have a genetic association.

Following his diagnosis, Jack was deeply concerned that his keratoconus would jeopardize his optometry career. Fortunately, he was referred to Dr. Nathan Morrow of Indiana Eye Surgeons who was able to come up with a treatment plan for Jack. He suggested that Jack receive the iLink® FDA-approved cross-linking procedure to slow or halt the progression of his keratoconus and help preserve his vision. Being an optometry student and taking great interest in the subject, Jack did his research and decided that the FDA-approved procedure was the best option for him. Learning more about cross-linking calmed Jack’s nerves and gave him hope for his future! In November 2020, Jack’s left eye was treated.

Finding Inspiration

Moving forward, Jack is continuing his education at IU as an optometry student. To further his keratoconus knowledge, he attends speeches and webinars with physicians that are diagnosing and treating the disease. Through his curiosity and eagerness to learn more, he has made connections with physicians that understand the importance of early detection and treatment when it comes to keratoconus. Jack feels more comfortable and confident with his studies as he can continue to wear soft lenses or keep his glasses on hand if he needs them. He is looking forward to one day being able to diagnose and treat patients of his own. Jack is hopeful that his patients will feel a sense of relief and trust knowing that their physician has firsthand experience with keratoconus and treatment with the iLink® FDA-approved cross-linking procedure.

Find a Cross-Linking Doctor Near You

Search the directory to locate a cross-linking doctor who is familiar with treating progressive keratoconus.

The results described on this site are based on data collected regarding short- and intermediate-term efficacy of treatment. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.

Nate Pasell was just 22 years old when he began experiencing symptoms of keratoconus (KC). He had lived all his life with 20/20 vision, then suddenly he had double, and blurry vision coupled with sporadic headaches. Once the symptoms began impacting his work, he knew it was time to see his eye doctor. Nate was working as a contractor for the Department of Defense and his blurred vision was impacting his ability to do his job. He was hoping to be prescribed glasses or contact lenses to correct the problem, but, unfortunately, none of the lenses he tried helped. His doctor then mentioned the possibility that his vision problems could be caused by KC.

A corneal specialist quickly confirmed Nate’s diagnosis of progressive keratoconus and recommended moving forward with iLink®, the first and only FDA-approved corneal cross-linking procedure that slows or halts the progression of KC and helps preserve vision. However, Nate had to wait over a year for his procedure, which led to the rapid deterioration of the vision in his right eye and eventually the almost complete inability to see from that eye.

“It creeps up on you,” Nate says about his KC progression. “But then you notice it and you just watch your vision rapidly deteriorate.”

In the year before his iLink procedure, Nate connected with a Glaukos Patient Services (GPS) representative. GPS is an individualized support program that works to advocate for KC patients in need of treatment and helps through every step of their journey, including understanding their diagnosis and treatment path as well as verifying insurance benefits. After hearing about the severity of his symptoms and how long he had been waiting for his procedure to be scheduled due to insurance delays, the GPS representative became an advocate for Nate and worked to have his iLink procedure scheduled within a month.

He was eager to undergo the procedure to try and stop the progression of KC in his right eye and he felt very prepared by both his doctor and the GPS representative he worked with. Additionally, after a year of waiting and the significant amount of vision loss he experienced, he couldn’t wait to begin healing and feeling like himself again. While Nate did experience some minor pain and discomfort, he was more pleased than he expected with how smooth and easy his iLink procedure was.

Now, Nate is not only back to work but also back to doing some of the things he loves, like golfing. His doctor continues to monitor for KC in his left eye, and Nate says he would move forward with cross-linking as quickly as possible if he were to be diagnosed with progressive KC in that eye.

Nate wants to emphasize how important prioritizing your eye health is and advocating for treatment right away. If it feels like something is wrong, he encourages those who may be suffering from symptoms of keratoconus to act quickly to prevent vision lose that may not be recovered. “Don’t wait,” he says. “Get the treatment you need and don’t let your eyes deteriorate.”

Find a Cross-Linking Doctor Near You

Search the directory to locate a cross-linking doctor who is familiar with treating progressive keratoconus.

The results described on this site are based on data collected regarding short- and intermediate-term efficacy of treatment. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.

With symptoms like blurred vision, headaches, and excessive eye rubbing, keratoconus can easily be misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed, with clinicians looking to prescribe glasses or contact lenses as a logical answer to address vision-related concerns when there seems to be no other explanation.

That’s what happened to Cameron Poplin of South Carolina who at age 20 during the global pandemic suddenly experienced debilitating headaches and extremely blurred vision out of his left eye one day while getting ready for work.

He went to his optometrist and a retina specialist, but they were unable to give him a diagnosis. His impaired vision and severe headaches quickly landed him in the emergency room, but without a diagnosis, he was back to a specialist, and then a neurologist, only to be sent back to his optometrist to be fitted for glasses. Cameron’s parents wondered if his vision problem could be caused by too much screen time or stress because scans did not indicate anything physically wrong, yet he spent three months in his bedroom in total darkness – unable to use his phone, watch TV or listen to music because his headaches were so bad.

Ultimately, Cameron saw an ophthalmologist who had the proper equipment to diagnose KC in his left eye and recommended iLink®, the first and only FDA-approved corneal cross-linking procedure that slows or halts the progression of KC to preserve vision. Fortunately, Cameron’s right eye is stable, although his doctors continue to monitor it regularly for any changes. In preparation for the iLink procedure, he was educated about KC and understood that the cross-linking procedure was necessary to stiffen and strengthen the cornea to slow or halt the progression of the disease. Immediately after the procedure on his left eye, Cameron experienced minor pain and his headaches stopped. He now wears scleral contact lenses in both eyes. These specialty contact lenses are larger than traditional contact lenses with a fluid reservoir layer to help improve severe vision irregularities.

Cameron is happy to trade the fear, frustration, headaches, and vision problems for a routine that requires eye drops and carefully inserting the contact lenses in his eyes. He also discovered a special device to help insert the lenses – a magnifier and light – to ensure there are no unwanted bubbles. And to further enhance his vision, especially for reading, Cameron is able to use innovative new glasses while wearing his sclera contacts.

An avid drummer who can play with or without his scleral lenses, Cameron does deal with some minor inconveniences as a result of his KC. He does not drive, although he has been given the okay by his doctor, because night vision remains a concern. He also must wear sunglasses whenever he is outside due to light sensitivity, and he only recently learned he can swim if he wears goggles over his lenses. Without his scleral lenses, he can barely see.

When not working in the hospitality industry, Cameron is passionate about generating awareness for KC, openly discussing his condition on social media and encouraging people to ask an eye doctor to refer them to a specialist if experiencing symptoms. His advocacy also includes posts and livestreaming on TikTok where is shares tips and information about KC and other eye conditions. His goal is to promote early detection and treatment in a timely manner to prevent the vision loss he experienced.

Find a Cross-Linking Doctor Near You

Search the directory to locate a cross-linking doctor who is familiar with treating progressive keratoconus.

The results described on this site are based on data collected regarding short- and intermediate-term efficacy of treatment. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.

Even before graduating high school, J’Shawn Gill was already an accomplished ballet and Broadway jazz dancer, starring in a music video for “This is Me” from the movie “The Greatest Showman” along with the cast of the popular TV show “Queer Eye”. His involvement led to an appearance on The Today Show and several other media interviews.


Since he was young, dance has always been J’Shawn’s passion. But his lifelong love of performing was threatened when he started noticing a rapid decline in his vision. In 2020, at age 20, he started experiencing blurred vision and headaches that led to squinting and excessive eye rubbing, with his mom noticing he was holding his phone just inches from his face to read the screen.


This went on for a few months before J’Shawn agreed to make an appointment to get his eyes checked, after a lot of convincing and pressure from his mom. They figured he likely needed to be prescribed glasses or contact lenses, however, J’Shawn’s broader long-term vision health was not on their radar at all.

After running some tests, J’Shawn was diagnosed with a progressive eye disease called keratoconus (KC) in one eye, a serious condition that affects the cornea—the surface of the eye—and can lead to significant vision loss if left untreated. His doctor promptly recommended he receive iLink®, the first and only FDA-approved corneal cross-linking procedure that slows or halts the progression of keratoconus and helps preserve vision.


Returning home from the eye doctor, J’Shawn and his mom did some research on KC and the iLink procedure, which eased some of their anxiety surrounding the diagnosis and treatment. His doctor did, however, explain that without this treatment, his vision would likely deteriorate which could lead to blindness, so for J’Shawn, it was a no-brainer to move forward with the procedure.


Thanks to the information and thorough explanations provided by his doctor beforehand, on the day of his treatment J’Shawn felt positive and calm–he was more worried about how soon he could get back to dancing than about the procedure itself. He felt very comfortable during cross-linking, and other than a slight sensitivity to light in the days after, he was back to dancing within seven days after being cleared by his doctor.


With iLink, J’Shawn was able to take control of his health and slow the progression of his disease. Today his doctors are monitoring his other eye for keratoconus progression and if necessary, J’Shawn says he will get his other eye cross-linked as soon as possible to preserve his sight and ensure he can keep on dancing. J’Shawn will be attending the University of Kansas in the fall of 2023 to study psychology, and he is grateful that his treatment will allow him to succeed at school and in all of his future endeavors.

Find a Cross-Linking Doctor Near You

Search the directory to locate a cross-linking doctor who is familiar with treating progressive keratoconus.

The results described on this site are based on data collected regarding short- and intermediate-term efficacy of treatment. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.

Find a Doctor

Important Safety Information

Ulcerative keratitis, a potentially serious eye infection, can occur. Your doctor should monitor defects in the outermost corneal layer of the eye for resolution.

The most common ocular side effect is haze. Other ocular side effects include inflammation, fine white lines, dry eye, disruption of surface cells, eye pain, light sensitivity, reduced sharpness of vision, and blurred vision. The risk information provided here is not comprehensive. To learn more, talk to your healthcare provider.

Go to Prescribing Info to obtain the FDA-approved product labeling.

You are encouraged to report all side effects to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/safety/medwatch-fda-safety-information-and-adverse-event-reporting-program, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Approved Uses

Photrexa® Viscous (riboflavin 5’-phosphate in 20% dextran ophthalmic solution) and Photrexa® (riboflavin 5’-phosphate ophthalmic solution) are used with the KXL® System in corneal cross-linking to treat eyes in which the cornea, the clear dome shaped surface that covers the front of the eye, has been weakened from the progression of the disease keratoconus or following refractive surgery, a method for correcting or improving your vision.

Tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.