Working as an emergency room nurse, Karolyn is accustomed to evaluating and treating a wide range of illnesses and injuries. However, when she began to experience blurry and worsening vision that made it difficult to drive and see at a distance, Karolyn found herself in the role of a patient. After seeing a specialist and learning she was living with progressive keratoconus, Karolyn knew she needed to treat her condition if she wanted to try to avoid any further vision loss.

Struggling With Her Sight

Karolyn, now 30, had always wanted to be a nurse since she was a little girl. Growing up, her younger brother was in the NICU, and watching the nurses help the babies inspired Karolyn to become one herself. Today, Karolyn’s dream is a reality – she works as an ER nurse and lives with her husband and three-year-old son.

A few years ago, when Karolyn first noticed she was having some trouble with her vision, she went for a LASIK consultation. She had grown tired of wearing glasses and dealing with contact lenses. During the appointment, she was surprised to learn that her corneas were misshapen and bulging. After further evaluation and testing, Karolyn discovered that she was not eligible for LASIK because she was diagnosed with keratoconus. Following the appointment, she was given a referral to a cornea specialist and sent on her way.

Because Karolyn’s eye doctor did not stress the importance of early detection and treatment, nor mention that the condition was progressive, she delayed scheduling an appointment to see the cornea specialist. At the time, Karolyn was in school studying for her master’s degree, so she was especially busy. However, as time passed, she noticed her vision continued to worsen. When driving to and from work, Karolyn struggled to see lines on the road and street signs. In her day-to-day life, she had difficulty seeing far away and couldn’t make out things in the distance.

With growing concern about her vision, Karolyn returned to her eye doctor and got a new prescription. Although this helped temporarily, it wasn’t long before Karolyn’s vision became blurry once again. At a loss for what to do, Karolyn decided it was time to visit a corneal specialist and made an appointment with Dr. Kunal Merchant of Eye Care Associates of New Jersey.

Following the Right Path

During the appointment, Dr. Merchant confirmed Karolyn’s progressive keratoconus diagnosis and recommended that she receive iLink® FDA-approved cross-linking, a minimally invasive outpatient procedure for the treatment of progressive keratoconus meant to slow or halt the progression to preserve vision. Since Karolyn was eager to expand her family, Dr. Merchant explained that the corneal collagen cross-linking procedure should not be performed on pregnant women since it is not known whether it can cause fetal harm or affect reproduction capacity. Knowing the potential risks, Karolyn opted to receive iLink in her left eye in September 2021, before trying for a second child.

Shortly after the procedure, Karolyn was thrilled to receive a promotion at work. With her new job responsibilities, she was extremely busy and had to put off getting her second eye treated. Several months later, Karolyn met a coworker with keratoconus. She learned that her coworker’s keratoconus had progressed to the point of needing to receive a corneal transplant. Concerned that could happen to her, Karolyn made an appointment to treat her right eye in April of 2022.

Excited for the Future

Now that she has treated her progressive keratoconus, Karolyn is less concerned about her condition progressing, especially to the point of needing a corneal transplant. Karolyn is excited that she can once again focus on spending quality time with her family and helping patients at work. With the procedures behind her, she is ready to try for a second baby with her husband, and she hopes they can grow their family one day soon.

Find an iLink Expert 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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