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Keratoconus Journey: Joe

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.

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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.