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Keratoconus Journey: Nate

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.

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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.