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Having struggled with vision issues since she was in the eighth grade, Emily eventually learned that she was living with progressive keratoconus. Emily’s eye disease began to impact her work as a first-grade teacher when she experienced debilitating headaches that interfered with her ability to read books to her students and she struggled to see her coworkers’ and students’ faces from a distance. In addition, Emily found driving at night and playing sports, one of her favorite activities, to be difficult with her declining vision.

Luckily, Emily’s optometrist, Dr. Brooke Messer at Vance Thompson Vision in Fargo, ND, recommended that she receive the iLink® FDA-approved cross-linking procedure to slow or halt the progression of her keratoconus and help preserve vision. Although Emily was nervous about getting the procedure, she was excited about the possibility of regaining the life she once knew and loved.

Treating Her Right Eye

Prior to Emily’s first cross-linking procedure in her right eye, she felt most nervous about being awake during the treatment. However, as the procedure was underway, Emily immediately relaxed – her surgeon, Dr. Michael Greenwood, was very friendly and engaged in conversation with her while she was being treated. The procedure was over before she knew it, and Emily found the entire process to be fairly easy. After the procedure, resting proved to be the most helpful. Emily experienced some discomfort, which was made worse by bright lights or looking at her cell phone, so she slept as much as she could.

The following day, Emily wore sunglasses to help alleviate some of her light sensitivity. By day three, she was feeling much better, and she was able to continue her recovery while watching New Girl and The Bachelorette. By day five, Emily resumed driving, along with the majority of her regular activities.

Knowing What to Expect With Her Left Eye

After learning what to expect from her first iLink FDA-approved cross-linking procedure, Emily was not nervous going into the second procedure to treat her left eye. Similar to her first experience, she found the procedure itself to be easy. Afterward, she made sure to rest and not rush her recovery. Like Emily’s right eye, she noticed that her left eye started to feel better after about four days. With both procedures behind her, Emily felt relieved and hopeful about her future.

Looking Forward to the Future

Now that she has received iLink in both eyes, Emily is living her life without worrying about her disease progressing. She’s able to enjoy her days at school and hopes to get fitted for hard contact lenses soon to help improve her vision. Meanwhile, she is incredibly grateful to have slowed or halted the progression of her keratoconus with iLink.

Find a Doctor/ Physician (Performing iLink

Search our physician locator to find a corneal specialist 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.

When Emily was in the eighth grade, she noticed that it was difficult for her to see the whiteboard during class. After visiting an eye doctor, Emily was given glasses and sent on her way. At the time, Emily had no idea that this was only the beginning of a long road filled with vision issues that she would ultimately learn were caused by keratoconus. Luckily, the now 28-year-old was able to find an eye doctor knowledgeable about her condition and the available treatment options. 

Grappling with Vision Issues

After getting by with glasses and contact lenses during high school and college, Emily decided to become a first-grade teacher. She loves her profession, as she can watch her students learn and grow. After the bell rings, she enjoys hanging out with her family, her boyfriend, her siblings, and her Aussiedoodle, Lola. 

However, over the years, Emily’s vision issues worsened and started impacting her career and personal life. During the school day, Emily began experiencing debilitating headaches that interfered with her ability to read books to her students. She also struggled to see her coworkers and students, as she could not identify people’s faces unless they were right in front of her. 

Outside of work, Emily had to stop driving at night because she was concerned about her ability to see the road clearly. Emily, who participates in sports, also found that her declining eyesight affected her ability to play volleyball and softball. After joining a summer softball league, Emily noticed that her contact lenses impacted her depth perception, causing her frustration when she could not find the ball. She decided she needed to stop playing and make an appointment with her eye doctor. 

Finding Answers & a Treatment Plan 

In early 2020, Emily visited Dr. Jeremy Anderson at Eye Associates of Alexandria to get to the bottom of what was causing her worsening eyesight. After ordering some tests, Dr. Anderson told Emily that he was 99% positive that she had keratoconus, but that he wanted to refer her to a specialist for further evaluation. Emily felt nervous because she did not know a lot about keratoconus. After calling her mom to discuss her possible condition, Emily learned that her cousin and aunt have keratoconus, as well. 

Dr. Brooke Messer at Vance Thompson Vision was the specialist Emily was referred to and she did diagnose Emily with progressive keratoconus. Her recommendation was for Emily to receive the iLink FDA-approved cross-linking procedure to slow or halt the progression of her condition. Emily, who was hoping not to need surgery, felt nervous. However, Emily’s trepidation began to lessen when Dr. Messer demonstrated how a specialty lens could improve her vision following the procedure. Then, instead of feeling nervous, Emily became excited about the prospect of being able to see more clearly for the first time in years. She felt even more comfortable once a technician shared more detailed information about the procedure and she knew what to expect. 

Navigating Insurance Coverage

After Emily decided to treat her progressive keratoconus with iLink, she began looking into insurance coverage. At the time, she had never really paid any attention to what her coverage included. After calling to inquire about the cost of her cross-linking procedure, Emily realized that she would have to meet a high deductible. Determined to receive the procedure, Emily was able to switch her plan to one with a lower deductible that she could afford. With that obstacle behind her, Emily was prepared and eager to have her first iLink procedure to treat her right eye, on July 11, 2022. 

Insurance coverage for the iLink® FDA-approved cross-linking procedure with Photrexa® Viscous (riboflavin 5’-phosphate in 20% dextran ophthalmic solution), Photrexa® (riboflavin 5’-phosphate ophthalmic solution), and the KXL® System is now widely available. More than 95% of the commercially insured population has access to this potentially sight-protecting treatment. 

Continue Following Emily’s iLink Journey!

Stay tuned for part 2 of Emily’s Keratoconus Journey, where we’ll be following her as she undergoes her first and second procedures and is fitted with specialty lenses to improve her vision.  

Find a Doctor (Performing iLink

Search our physician locator to find a corneal specialist 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.

An Unexpected Turn

Aaron was an active teen growing up. He participated in many sports despite wearing thick glasses to see clearly. As a high school varsity football player, Aaron’s teammates often teased him for his poor vision– specifically his troubles locating the ball on the field. Despite his love of football, his eyesight often caused problems– during one game he remembers lunging for a pass that was nowhere near him.

Aaron’s vision troubles continued after graduating high school, when he suffered an unexpected and painful corneal rupture in his right eye. During his treatment, doctors determined the root cause of his vision problems: Aaron was living with an eye disease called keratoconus– a progressive condition that causes thinning and bulging of the cornea.

At age 18, Aaron received a corneal transplant to replace the damaged tissue in his right eye. His recovery from the transplant was slower than he expected. It took about a month for the pain to subside and even longer for his vision to completely “clear.”

After the procedure, Aaron received upsetting news that he also had keratoconus in his left eye. Thankfully the disease was less severe than his right eye, so he could begin researching ways to manage his condition and potentially avoid another corneal transplant. To manage his keratoconus, Aaron had to wear a scleral contact lens in his right eye and a rigid gas permeable lens in his left eye in addition to his glasses. If left untreated, keratoconus can quickly progress and in some cases, cause blindness. According to Aaron, the prospect of losing his full eyesight left him feeling defeated. “I didn’t know how I would be able to do anything without my vision,” he admitted. “It crushed me.”

Driving On

A few years after his corneal transplant, Aaron began the application process for his truck-driving license. He knew his vision was not as strong as he would like but he couldn’t put his life on hold any longer. As part of the application process, Aaron disclosed to the California Department of Motor Vehicles his vision correcting eyewear. He passed the vision exam and in April of 2017, Aaron received his Class A California driver’s license allowing him to drive semi-trailer trucks.

Aaron’s first year as a truck driver went smoothly. He was able to drive and was excited to get in his truck each morning and spend the day on the road.

Unfortunately, as time went on, the vision in his left (non-transplanted) eye started to decline. He began having trouble judging the distance between cars and seeing whether or not a car was traveling in the lane next to him. Driving at night presented its own unique challenge, specifically when he was trying to back up his rig at the terminal. He started to hold up the line of other truckers coming in behind him and eventually needed a fellow truck driver to park the semi-trailer truck for him.

Facing the prospect of having to give up his new career, Aaron made the difficult decision to take himself off the road and figure out his next move.

At the Crossroads

In late 2017, because of the challenges he was dealing with, Aaron feared he might lose his job and career if he could not find a way to preserve his vision. While corneal transplants can treat keratoconus, he did not want to undergo the taxing surgery again if there were another option. Feeling that his resources were limited, Aaron turned to someone who was also battling keratoconus: his own brother.

Aaron’s brother could empathize with the challenges and fears he was dealing with and suggested visiting a local ophthalmologist in the area. After being examined by the doctor, Aaron learned about a promising and, at the time-new,  FDA-approved procedure called corneal cross-linking.

A minimally invasive procedure, corneal cross-linking would strengthen the bonds of Aaron’s cornea, working to halt the progression of the disease. After reading reviews and doing his own research, Aaron decided that cross-linking was the best option for him, both in the short and long term.

In January 2018, he underwent the procedure. The first few days of his recovery were painful, but he managed with pain medication prescribed by his doctor. During his recovery, Aaron had the support of his parents and siblings, and even had his doctor’s personal phone number on hand.

Now, Aaron is back behind the wheel of his semi-trailer truck wearing soft contact lenses and confident in his ability to see the road clearly.

Click here to read more KC Journeys.

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.

Dione had been living in a “haze” of blurry vision since she was 18 years old. She tried a variety of contact lenses hoping they would help her to see better. However, it wasn’t until 2011, when she received an unexpected diagnosis, that she realized she would need more than just lenses to treat her declining vision.

Living in a Secret “Haze”

Since childhood, Dione suffered from nearsighted blurry vision and opted to wear glasses in an effort to see more clearly. Over the years, she tried a variety of different types of contacts, including Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) and soft lenses, before deciding that RGP contacts might be the right lenses for her. However, during the first six months of wearing hard lenses, she did not feel like herself, walking around in tears because she could not get used to how they felt.

While lenses seemed to help Dione for a few years, she eventually got to the point where she could no longer ignore the impact her vision was having on her life. As a mother with young children, she would often have to ask her husband what their children were doing (or chewing on!) if they were playing across the room, as she couldn’t see that far. Driving at night was also nerve-racking and something that Dione dreaded daily. One particular moment stands out: when her mother visited her at her home in Texas and needed to be picked up at the airport. On the way home, Dione ran over the median, as she often had difficulty making out where to turn at night. This frightened her mother, as Dione never shared with her, nor her husband, how bad her vision was really getting.

A Long Journey

In 2011, an eye exam through work resulted in an unexpected diagnosis. The ophthalmologist performing the exam informed her that she was living with keratoconus, a progressive eye disease in which the normally round cornea thins and begins to bulge into a cone-like shape, causing distorted vision, and would most likely need a corneal transplant. This diagnosis left her devastated and scared.

After doing some digging and learning about clinical research in a new procedure – corneal cross-linking, Dione visited a local specialist and asked if the treatment was available in the area. At the time, the procedure was not yet FDA approved. Exhibiting caution, Dione decided to wait until the procedure was approved to ensure that she could educate herself with the available information. It was for that reason she started following articles and research, dedicating as much time as she could to understanding the procedure.

As fate had it, Dione was sent to Tampa, Florida on a business trip in 2011 and while she was there, she made an appointment with Dr. Craig Berger from Bay Area Eye Institute, an expert in corneal cross-linking that one of Dione’s colleagues recommended. Given his experience and notoriety, Dione decided to follow him, awaiting FDA approval. Following another business trip to Tampa a few years later in 2018, Dione once again visited Dr. Berger, where she learned that cross-linking was not only FDA approved, but also that she was a candidate to receive the procedure.

Worth the Wait

Dione knew she would need to undergo corneal cross-linking, however, she knew she did not want to go right away., after years of research and waiting, she was ready have the procedure. After she made her decision, she realized it was time to tell her family how bad her vision truly was and why she needed cross-linking.

With the support of her family, Dione underwent FDA approved corneal cross-linking in September 2019 on her left eye, which at the time was more progressed than her right. Dr. Berger made her feel as comfortable as possible, by walking her through the procedure, step by step. That night and for a few days post-procedure, Dione used ice packs and drops to mitigate the slight amount of pain she felt and relied on her husband as a human cane when trying to get around. Less than a week later, Dione found herself walking around and back to her normal routine.

Moving Forward With Clarity

Dione is now wearing glasses and plans to receive cross-linking on her right in March 2020. Following her second procedure, she will then be fitted for scleral lenses. Dione no longer has fears about driving at night and she is able to see what her kids are doing from across the room. She can even walk around without glasses on, having full confidence in her movements.

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.

Growing up, Trayci didn’t know a life without contacts or glasses, so when she had the option to receive Lasik, she took it. However, 14 years after receiving the procedure, she once again found her vision declining. Soon after, she was shocked to learn she was living with a progressive vision condition.

Life’s Unexpected Turn

Up until 2019, Trayci’s vision had been near perfect following her Lasik surgery. But in early 2019, she started to notice that her vision was slowly declining. Since Trayci is a diabetic, she immediately became concerned with this change in her vision and wanted to be sure that it was not related to her diabetes, so she made an appointment with her ophthalmologist.

To help with her vision issues, her eye doctor suggested a Lasik “tune-up.” She was told that this would improve her farsightedness; however, it would also worsen her near vision. For Trayci, this was not an option since she works in an office and stares at a computer all day. Instead, her doctor decided to give her a prescription for glasses, but Trayci decided to not fill the prescription because she could see well enough and preferred to not start wearing glasses again.

But by 2020, Trayci realized that her vision was drastically worse. She was experiencing blurry vision and terrible night vision, which caused her anxiety while driving during the day and to avoid driving at night altogether. Trayci also felt nervous when she had to travel for work by herself, since she couldn’t see the departure and arrival screens at the airport. The vision issues were even affecting her love of reading books. She purchased 12 pairs of reading glasses all with different powers in an attempt to continue reading but became too frustrated when she couldn’t find a pair that was right for her.

Taking Control of Her Vision

With her vision continuing to decline, Trayci decided to make another appointment to check her prescription. During the appointment, it was confirmed that Trayci’s vision had gotten much worse, and her prescription was drastically different than the year prior. Trayci’s doctor even went as far as to say that she shouldn’t have driven herself to or from the appointment that day. He also mentioned the possibility that Trayci could have keratoconus, and referred her to a specialist, Dr. Mark Kontos of Empire Eye in Spokane, Washington.

Sensing the urgency of the matter, Trayci quickly made an appointment with Dr. Kontos. After an initial exam, he confirmed that Trayci had keratoconus in both eyes and recommended iLink®, the only FDA-approved corneal cross-linking procedure that is meant to slow or halt the progression of the condition. This diagnosis came as a shock to Trayci, especially when the doctor discussed the seriousness of the condition. It was then that she was prescribed soft contact lenses in an attempt to improve her vision. However, she found herself needing a new prescription every week because her keratoconus was progressing quickly.

Following her diagnosis, Trayci began to research her condition and any available treatment options, which is when she came across this website. It was there that she learned more about keratoconus and FDA-approved cross-linking, which she was able to confirm Dr. Kontos offered. To preserve her vision options, Trayci decided to schedule her corneal cross-linking procedures as soon as possible.

A Supportive Experience

Once insurance approved the procedure, Trayci had her right eye treated in August 2020 and her left eye in September 2020. In the first few days after the procedure, Trayci felt discomfort and wore a patch over her eye. Since she stares at a computer screen all day at work, she decided to take two weeks off during her recovery so she wouldn’t strain her eyes. Trayci also took the time to submit a voucher request for each eye as part of the Patient Support Program and will receive $200 ($100 per eye) toward her FDA-approved cross-linking co-pay expenses.

Trayci had initially decided to hide her diagnosis from most of her family and friends, as she didn’t want to worry anyone until she had a treatment plan in place. Now, she’s glad she did confide in them because they proved to be a big help during her recovery by keeping her company and taking her on drives. In opening up to others about her condition, Trayci was surprised to learn that her coworker’s husband and her father-in-law also have keratoconus. Trayci referred her coworker’s husband to Dr. Kontos and mentioned the Patient Support Program, and she was surprised to learn that her father-in-law had also received cross-linking to treat his progressive KC.

Looking Forward to the Future

Now that Trayci has received FDA-approved cross-linking in both of her eyes, she is looking forward to getting her first pair of scleral lenses to help improve her vision. Trayci is hopeful this will be the last time she will need to be fitted for a pair of lenses!

In addition, Trayci is finding that her life is much less stressful, and she is looking forward to almost everything in her daily life becoming easier because she is now able to see. With her keratoconus treated and looking forward to receiving an accurate lens prescription, Trayci is excited for the little things, such as watching TV, reading, going to the movies, getting her phone and computer back to a more “normal” font size, and simply driving around without worry.

Find a Cornea Cross-Linking Specialist Near You:

Search our physician locator to find a corneal specialist 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.

When Joe was a teenager, he began wearing disposable contact lenses to help improve his vision. Nearly two decades later, after entering the workforce and traveling the world, Joe moved to the Tampa, Florida area with his wife and began looking for a new eye doctor. When he found one, it led him down a path he didn’t expect.

After completing his world travels, Joe made an appointment with an ophthalmologist in Orlando with the hope of getting LASIK surgery to correct his vision. At the initial appointment, Joe’s doctor carefully examined his eyes and discovered the reason for his deteriorating vision — Joe was living with keratoconus, a progressive eye disease in which the normally round cornea thins and begins to bulge into a cone-like shape. The doctor informed him that LASIK would not be effective at correcting his distorted vision and recommended that he visit a corneal specialist to consider other treatment options.

Patient Assistance From Glaukos Made Treatment Accessible

Although Joe had never heard of keratoconus before, after learning more about the condition, the diagnosis began to make more sense. For years he had experienced many of the symptoms, including difficulty getting soft contacts to stay in his eyes, double vision, and trouble seeing at night. His wife had to drive whenever they traveled at night, and Joe could barely see the video games he enjoyed playing in his spare time. The more he thought about it, Joe realized that prior to his diagnosis he was unable to do his job. As an electrician, he often needed to read small print, and his struggle to do so was slowing him down.

A few months after being diagnosed, Joe visited an ophthalmologist who recommended he receive Intacs®. However, when a scheduling conflict caused the procedure to be cancelled, Joe began to have second thoughts and ultimately did not reschedule. When he heard about the FDA-approved corneal cross-linking treatment, he and his wife began doing extensive research. That’s when they learned about Dr. Craig Berger and the team at Bay Area Eye, a leading corneal specialist and practice in the Tampa area performing the FDA-approved cross-linking procedure.

During his first appointment, Dr. Berger reaffirmed what Joe had hoped — he recommended Joe undergo the cross-linking procedure. Unfortunately, at the time, unforeseen circumstances left Joe and his wife without insurance. That’s when Dr. Berger informed him that he may qualify for a patient assistance program. After being accepted, they moved forward and scheduled the procedure.

Getting It Done

In February of 2019, Joe underwent FDA-approved cross-linking in his left eye. Prior to Joe undergoing corneal cross-linking, Joe’s ophthalmologist discussed risks and benefits of the procedure. He had found the procedure to be much quicker than he imagined and painless. When he began to experience some dull pain a few hours later, Joe took some pain medication and went to sleep early. The next morning, he woke up pain-free.

About four months after his first eye was treated, Joe was fitted with a scleral lens to help improve his vision. By September of 2019, he was ready to receive cross-linking in his right eye. After healing and stabilizing even faster than the first eye, he was fitted with his other scleral lens about two months later.

More than a year later, Joe wears his contact lenses daily which allows him to see better than he has in years. Joe is now able to both do his job and enjoy after-work activities, play video games and drive at night. Now that his condition has been appropriately managed, Joe says he is grateful and glad he underwent the procedure, adding that “good eyesight is important — something you often take for granted until yours isn’t good anymore.”

Find a Corneal Cross-Linking Specialist Near You

Search the directory to locate a corneal specialist 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.

Casey noticed his vision was blurry at just 15 years old. An initial diagnosis determined he had a cataract, but after undergoing the recommended corrective surgery, his vision only continued to decline. A second opinion found that he was in fact living with keratoconus.

Learning to Cope

After an unsuccessful cataract surgery in 10th grade, Casey spent the rest of high school learning to cope with his deteriorating vision. With his vision rapidly declining in his left eye and minor blurred vision in his right eye, Casey had to get creative to manage his normal everyday activities. He used his cell phone camera’s zoom as a magnifying glass to read anything he couldn’t see. If he wanted to read a book, he either had to hold the book right in front of his eyes or listen to audiobooks. He also struggled to drive. To try to compensate for his poor eyesight, Casey even memorized vision charts at the eye doctor’s office to make it seem like his vision wasn’t getting worse.

Those close to Casey could tell something was up with his eyesight, but they didn’t know to what extent and just thought he needed glasses. Casey knew trying to find a solution to his vision problems could cost money, and growing up with a single mother, he did not want to be a burden. So, he simply avoided talking about it and effectively hid his progressively worsening vision from his family and his peers.

After the military rejected Casey during his senior year of high school due to what they diagnosed as a ‘degenerative eye disease’, Casey began preparing for the worst. Anticipating blindness, he started teaching himself to read and write braille. Casey was determined not to let his eyesight affect his future, so he began preparing himself to become a successful blind person. However, he found this to be an incredibly depressing experience.

Getting Some Answers

Compelled to make something of himself despite his vision issues, Casey enrolled in college, where he double-majored in criminal justice and psychology and double-minored in child adolescent development and international conflict. However, life as a student was becoming difficult to manage due to his worsening vision issues, resulting in Casey taking a break from school. At the time, he was living in Missouri with his aunt who noticed his vision was worsening. She knew that Casey needed to visit the eye doctor once again to find out what was wrong.

After years of not knowing what was causing his deteriorating vision, Casey was referred to Mercy Hospital in Springfield and was finally diagnosed with keratoconus in May of 2019. Instead of feeling relief to finally know what was going on, Casey felt like he had caused his keratoconus. The doctor who diagnosed Casey explained there are certain risk factors for keratoconus, such as a family history of the disease and excessive and vigorous rubbing of the eyes. Casey has allergies and eczema, both of which cause him to frequently rub his eyes, so he assumed he had caused his keratoconus and he worried he may never be able to see clearly again.

Luckily, Casey was then referred to experienced ophthalmologist, Dr. Shachar Tauber, who assured Casey that he was not going to become blind and that there was a procedure available that could slow or halt the progression of his keratoconus. Knowing there was a way to stop the progression came as a relief for Casey, but he was skeptical at first because of his unsuccessful cataract surgery when he was 15. However, he decided that the treatment was the best option to preserve his vision, so he scheduled the procedure.

With encouragement from Dr. Tauber, Casey underwent iLink® FDA-approved cross-linking in his left eye in June of 2020. He was the first patient of Dr. Tauber’s to undergo the procedure. Following the procedure, Casey was fitted with scleral contact lenses in both eyes to improve his vision. The keratoconus in Casey’s right eye had not progressed as much at the time and did not require surgery. His doctor is continuing to monitor the progression and may treat his right eye eventually if appropriate.

Looking to the Future

Following the FDA-approved cross-linking procedure in his left eye and being properly fitted with scleral lenses, Casey started to feel like doors were opening for him and that he could do so many things that he wasn’t able to previously. The same eye that caused him to be rejected from the military was now his better eye. He began driving comfortably and no longer needed to use his cell phone as a magnifying glass or listen to audiobooks out of necessity. He could make out people’s faces without having to squint to see them. Most significantly, Casey put his braille studies to rest.

Next year, Casey even has plans to return to college, and he hopes to add another major to his studies. He aims to ultimately run for office to become a Senator in Georgia. In addition, Casey would love to be on TV one day, or get a side gig as a motivational speaker.

With his vision issues under control, Casey is thrilled to have his life back on track. He’s looking forward to living a full life, and pursuing many of his dreams along the way. He recommends the FDA-approved cross-linking procedure to anyone who is struggling with progressive keratoconus, and he now lives by the motto, “Why waste time adapting to life when you don’t have to?”

Find a Cornea Cross-Linking Specialist Near You:

Search our physician locator to find a corneal specialist 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.

Jackson has had a rocky relationship with his vision for years. He tried his best to adapt to his declining vision, and even got his first pair of glasses, however his vision only continued to worsen. After struggling for over a decade, Jackson finally learned what was causing his vision issues: keratoconus.

Disrupting His Livelihood

Before his vision issues arose, Jackson, now 22 years old, was dealing with other health problems. He was 12 years old when he was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Stage 3 Cancer. After two rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, Jackson was thrilled to be in remission from his cancer. However, around that same time, he began noticing slight changes in his vision and differences in the shape of his eyes.

Over the next decade, Jackson’s vision became progressively worse. Working as a Hot Shot outside Dallas, Texas, Jackson regularly hauled heavy equipment and livestock across the state. His livelihood was heavily dependent on his vision. While driving, Jackson had to use his phone’s GPS and the CarPlay app to determine what exits he was approaching and often had to squint until his eyes were almost closed to see road signs. Whenever Jackson was driving with a colleague or a friend, they would look at him like he was crazy when they noticed he could barely see the road.

Jackson’s declining vision also began affecting his favorite pastimes, such as hunting and ranching. Hunting became extremely difficult for Jackson as he was no longer comfortable pulling the trigger since the crosshairs and scope would appear blurry to him. In addition, Jackson and his father had done work in ranching together for years, however, that too became challenging as he could no longer tell if the barbed wire fences were straight enough – a necessity in the field.

Finally, a Diagnosis

As his vision continued to decline, Jackson was worried he may not be able to pass his commercial driver’s license eye exam. Since he depended on and enjoyed his job, he decided it was time to take action before his eyesight became worse and further affected his livelihood.

Searching for answers, Jackson went to see his cousin, Brooke, who was studying to become an ophthalmologist. Brooke set Jackson up with a pair of prescription eyeglasses, however, he quickly noticed his vision was continuing to decline. Thinking there may be something more serious going on with his eyes, Brooke referred Jackson to Dr. Jerry Hu of Texas Eye and Laser Center. It was then, in February of 2019, that Dr. Hu diagnosed Jackson with keratoconus. Jackson had never heard of keratoconus before, but he learned that it had been affecting the shape of his eye, was the reason for his declining vision, and that it needed to be treated as soon as possible or his vision would continue to get worse.

Seeking Much-Needed Treatment

Dr. Hu recommended that Jackson undergo iLink® FDA-approved cross-linking to slow or halt the progression of his keratoconus. Jackson was hesitant to have the procedure done because he had previously undergone numerous surgeries for his cancer, not all of which worked. With encouragement from Dr. Hu, Jackson understood that he needed the procedure and underwent FDA-approved cross-linking in his left eye in the summer of 2019, and in his right eye in September 2019. Now that Jackson’s keratoconus has been properly treated, he is in the process of getting fitted for a scleral contact lens for his left eye to help improve his vision. Dr. Hu will continue to monitor Jackson’s right eye, which is much less severe, to determine if he will need a corrective lens in that eye as well.

Following his FDA-approved cross-linking procedures, Jackson went back to visit his cousin Brooke to show her his progress. Brooke was so pleased with the results, and according to Jackson, she almost teared up when she examined his eyes since they had been in such poor condition previously, but now appeared stable.

Looking Ahead

With his keratoconus now under control and with corrective lenses in place, Jackson is finally able to focus on what he enjoys, including going hunting and not having to worry about missing his target. He is also no longer concerned about passing his next commercial driver’s license test or squinting at road signs when behind the wheel. The most exciting thing that Jackson is now looking forward to is opening a ranch with his father and being able to see the fencing lines clearly!

Find a Cornea Cross-Linking Specialist Near You:

Search our physician locator to find a corneal specialist 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.

Since he was a young boy, Chris’ life has revolved around baseball. But when he started to have difficulty seeing and was forced to hang up his glove, he began looking for solutions to strikeout his vision challenges. By his early 20s, Chris had given up hope on a future baseball career. His trouble visually tracking the ball and chronic headaches had begun to seriously impact him by the end of college. Determined to find a new way to make a career out of the sport he loves, Chris found his calling in the front office, working with both the marketing and operations teams,
as well as close to the action on the field— as a team broadcaster.

With his focus on being the “eyes and ears” of his teams, Chris still faced challenges. Although it took another year or so before he sought help, eventually Chris got to the point where he could no longer drive at night because of his inability to see clearly. It was then that he knew it was time to seek a formal diagnosis.

After several visits to various doctors, including an ENT, brain specialist, and psychologist, Chris finally saw an optometrist who recognized his condition right away. He was referred to a corneal specialist and diagnosed with keratoconus, a progressive eye disease in which the normally round cornea thins and begins to bulge into a cone-like shape, causing distorted vision. The diagnosis came as a major shock to him, leaving him fearful about his future in the career he was beginning to love.

Stealing Signs

Over the next 5 years or so, Chris relied on hard contacts as he moved three times pursuing new career opportunities— from Jackson, Tennessee, to Biloxi, Mississippi, before ultimately getting a call from the Mississippi Braves. Unfortunately, as Chris’ career continued to progress, so did his keratoconus. During the long bus rides with the team traveling to road games, his eyes increasingly became sore and dry. Despite the discomfort, Chris thought his only alternative was to undergo a corneal transplant, so he continued to wear the contacts until he couldn’t anymore.

Chris’ vision was significantly worse without wearing his contact lenses. But, eventually, his vision became fairly poor even while wearing his contact lenses. He increasingly struggled to see what was happening on the field, especially during night games, with the glare of stadium lights making it nearly impossible to tell long drives from home runs. Over time, Chris began finding shortcuts, using umpire signs to help him make calls, printing notes in large fonts, and even bringing live-television monitors into the booth to help him with the play-by-play.

Seeing the Season Through

In Jackson, Mississippi, where he now works, Chris began looking for a new corneal specialist. He visited Dr. William Ashford at Eye Group MS in February of 2019. While there, Dr. Ashford recommended that Chris undergo FDA-approved cross-linking, the first and only therapeutic treatment that stiffens the cornea to slow  or halt the progression of keratoconus. After his appointment, he went straight home to begin his research online, where he found patient profiles and learned more about the FDA-approved treatment.

By the spring of 2019, Chris had decided he wanted to move forward with the procedure, but with only weeks until the start of the baseball season, he opted to put it on hold until the next offseason. He would tough it out for one more season before undergoing treatment.

In September 2019, just a week after the season ended, Chris underwent cross-linking in his left eye followed by his right eye about 3 months later. Experiencing some discomfort during both procedures, Chris returned home to rest and in a few days was back to normal. About two and a half months after each eye was treated, Chris started noticing improvements as a result of the procedure.

Stealing a Second Chance

Early this year, Chris returned to his optometrist to be fitted for scleral lenses which have greatly improved his vision. He said it has been years since he was able to see this well. As he prepares for the start of another baseball season, Chris says that he only wishes he had pursued FDA-approved cross-linking sooner.

Now that his condition has been treated, Chris believes that he has been given a second chance to excel at his career— and he has big dreams. He encourages others to get their eyes checked regularly and to keep asking questions if their doctors  are unable to identify a diagnosis.

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.

At 14 years old, Diana found herself squinting to see the board at school and while watching television in the comfort of her own home. Her family saw she was struggling to see so they made an appointment at a local eye doctor to find out what was wrong with her eyes. At that time, Diana was prescribed glasses to help her see more clearly, but unfortunately, as the years went on, the lenses never seemed to really help improve her vision. It wasn’t until a decade later Diana discovered the root of her vision issues: she was living with progressive keratoconus.

Trying to Balance it All

As a 25-year-old working mother of two, Diana’s vision issues were causing her to struggle at work as a family service worker. She spent many days in front of the computer and had difficulty in meetings trying to see the board, which caused headaches and discomfort. Ultimately, Diana decided to leave her career and become a stay-at-home mom to be with her 6-year-old and 2-year-old. Diana was constantly worried about her family’s health and wellness over her own, cutting back on her personal struggles to focus on her children.

However, her vision continued to decline and it got to a point where Diana could no longer ignore her eye issues. When she drove at night the headlights bothered her eyes, making it difficult for her to navigate where she was driving. Even relaxing at home was a chore and she couldn’t enjoy watching television because of the strain it was putting on her eyes and the extreme headaches and forehead pain she was suffering from. Diana soon reached her breaking point. Finally, wanting to get to the root cause of her eye issues, she made an eye appointment at Omni Eye Specialists where she met with Dr. Meredith Treece.

Searching for Answers

During her appointment with Dr. Treece, Diana underwent a routine eye exam and was ultimately diagnosed with progressive keratoconus in both eyes. The diagnosis surprised Diana because she had no idea what keratoconus was, if there were any treatment options, or what even the next steps following her diagnosis would be. Luckily, Dr. Treece gave Diana ample information about keratoconus, discussing the risks and benefits and recommending that she receive iLink® FDA-approved cross-linking in an effort to slow or halt the progression of her condition.

 Before leaving the practice, Dr. Treece provided Diana with a referral to Dr. Lisa V. Sitterson at Carolina Eye Associates. Without hesitation, Diana was willing to travel the extra two hours to see Dr. Sitterson to gain even more clarity on her diagnosis and learn more about iLink®. During her visit with Dr. Sitterson, Diana began to feel comfortable about the procedure and agreed that cross-linking was the best option for her. Before leaving the office, Diana was scheduled to receive FDA-approved cross-linking exactly a week later.

Preparation Is Key

Diana felt a new sense of relief now that things were moving in the right direction and she had her FDA-approved cross-linking procedure scheduled. Prior to the procedure, she was prescribed antibiotics from Dr. Sitterson to help prepare her for recovery from iLink®, which she received in July 2021 in her right eye. A few weeks later, Diana checked in with Dr. Sitterson, and the pair scheduled Diana’s second iLink® procedure on her left eye in September 2021. While Diana experienced some minor pain or discomfort, looking back, she believes that being prepared for any potential discomfort in advance was the key to her successful recovery after both procedures.

A Hopeful Future

Once Diana recovered from her procedures, she went back to Dr. Treece’s office and was fitted for scleral lenses to help manage her vision. Now that Diana’s keratoconus has been treated with iLink® and she has been properly fitted with lenses, she feels more confident going about her daily activities with her children, knowing that her condition has been slowed or halted.

After learning about keratoconus and being the first person in her family to be diagnosed with the progressive condition, Diana understood that it could, in fact, be hereditary. She has now made it a priority to keep up with her children’s eye health, making sure her kids get their eyes checked regularly and watching to see if they rub their eyes excessively, as that could be a sign of keratoconus. Diana recommends that everyone stays on top of their eye health and if you’re living with progressive keratoconus and iLink® FDA-approved cross-linking is an option for you, Diana suggests following through with the procedure to help slow or halt its progression and also recommends discussing all the risks of the procedure, such as haze or inflammation, with your doctor so you know what to expect.

Find a Cornea Cross-Linking Specialist Near You:

Search our physician locator to find a corneal specialist 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.

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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, 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.