Skip to content

Keratoconus Journey: Jackson

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.

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, 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.