Dr. Chu Talks Eye Care on Twin Cities Live

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Twin Cities Live had Dr. Chu on to answer viewer questions about dry eyes, cataracts, and more.


Ben: Hey, everybody. It’s so good to have Lindsey Brown from “5 Eyewitness News” here with me today.

Lindsey: We’re having fun.

Ben: We are having fun.

Lindsey: Thanks for having me.

Ben: Yeah. The little game we played was a lot of fun.

Lindsey: It was. I still have lots of questions.

Ben: I know. I know. We didn’t really yet quite answer your last question. We’ll get to that. All right. We love when Dr. Chu from Chu Vision joins us here on “Twin Cities Live.” He does such a great job breaking down all of our questions on eye health.

Lindsey: Yeah. So much to ask. So right now, it’s time to ask Dr. Chu. And, Doctor, we’re starting with the topic that it affects a lot of people, you hear people talking about this a lot right now. We’re talking about dry eyes.

Dr. Chu: Absolutely. Yeah. This time of year when the weather gets colder, the heaters go on, the humidity comes down, and we see lots of our patients calling and asking, like, you know, “What happens to my dry eye?”

Lindsey: Yeah. What’s this all about?

Dr. Chu: Yeah. The biggest symptom that people notice is not even just the scratchiness that you would assume, it’s actually blurry vision, you know? So if you’re driving into work and your defrosters are on your eyes, you actually…it’s harder to see. So protecting your eyes from those kinda sources can help.

Find your true north with New Vision.

Ben: Okay. So we asked a lot of people on Facebook, and we heard from a lot of you. So thank you so much. So, some people say, like, maybe these are just home remedies and you can maybe, you know, debunk them or prove them. Just vitamin eye drops, ointments, hot packs. What about taking fish oil supplements? Do those things sort of help that?

Dr. Chu: Yeah. There’s a whole spectrum of, you know, treatments that can be done. And all those are parts of the treatment. I think the first line of defense is just an over-the-counter artificial tear, right? There’s good ones out there. Some of the brand names are Refresh and Systane, Genteal, those are all non-preserved, and that’s what you’re really looking for. Just a tear to hydrate the eyes so you can see better and feel better.

Lindsey: Well, can you get addicted to those as in, will you stop making tears?

Dr. Chu: That’s such a common question. And actually, no, your body won’t forget how to tear. So, it’s just like putting lotion on your skin. You’re still gonna actually produce your natural, you know, oils. But this just supplements when, you know, mother nature overpowers it.

Ben: Okay. And there’s no limit? So you just do it as needed?

Dr. Chu: Yeah. Normally we say start four times a day, or you can use ’em up to every hour. Now, when you have to start using ’em that much, most people can’t, you know, stay compliant. So, there are other things that we can do, but start four times a day.

Ben: Okay.

Lindsey: All right. I think everybody probably has a family member that has that picture with those glasses on from cataract surgery. It just cracks me up. My dad’s… You know what I’m talking about?

Dr. Chu: Oh, yeah.

Lindsey: Well, so what are cataracts, actually?

Dr. Chu: Yeah. Cataracts are just a part of the natural aging process of the body. So, it’s the clouding of the natural lens. So it’s, you know, it’s a structure that’s already in your body, and it’s just a part of aging.

Ben: Oh, okay. So to actually kinda…dumb it down for me. So, if we actually think, and, you know, a camera lens is very similar to the way our eye works.

Dr. Chu: Absolutely.

Ben: So you’re saying cataracts is basically just, the lens itself just gets a little filthy. It gets a little dirty, but it can’t clean itself off by itself. You guys have to surgically do something to clean it?

Dr. Chu: Exactly. Right. The lens in the eye is exactly like the lens of a camera. But as we get older, the proteins in our body start getting cloudier. They start turning colors from clear to yellowish and brown. So patients start noticing color changes. They start noticing trouble. It’s almost like a pair of sunglasses growing inside your eye, right? So…

Lindsey: Weird.

Dr. Chu: Yeah. And there is no medical therapy for it. So the only treatment is surgery. So we remove the cloudy lens, and then you can replace with an implant. And that’s where the magic of the technology happens. That’s where we can help people see like they’re 25 years old again.

Lindsey: What is the recovery on that?

Dr. Chu: The recovery’s amazing. The recovery really is just, you know, a few hours, you know. So the next day many people are already seeing so much better. They’re seeing colors brighter, more light is getting into their eye, and then the sharpness improves over the next few days.

Lindsey: That could be life-changing.

Ben: Yeah, life-changing. Now, let me ask you because I’m such a wimp, painful?

Dr. Chu: No pain at all, really. So, modern surgery is no sutures, no patches. So there’s no needles. Patients are, you know, usually asleep during the surgery. So you don’t see or feel anything coming towards your face. The next day you’re pretty much back to using your eye. You can shower and you can actually go back to most of your normal activities.

Ben: Okay. So, you’re here to talk about some of the other surgeries. The most common I think now is LASIK. LASIK I feel like is such a common surgery. So many people can get it, other people can’t for other reasons. But what is the LASIK procedure like, and what’s the recovery like for a LASIK procedure?

Dr. Chu: Yeah. LASIK has been one of the biggest revolutions in eye care. You know, it’s about a 10-minute surgery to do both eyes. It’s also pain-free during the surgery, and afterwards, it’s about just a few hours of recovery. Your eyes are maybe a little scratchy, a little blurry for about six hours.

But the next day you’re back to your normal activities. You can wear eye makeup and the vast majority of patients are driving themselves in and able to return to work the next day.

Lindsey: Oh, wow. What about an implantable lens? What are they and who is a good candidate?

Dr. Chu: Yeah. These implantable lenses, we just had the latest generation approved earlier this year. And, you know, Joe Jonas is one of the influencers who’s talking about this because he just had his eyes done. But it’s an implantable contact lens that can be used for people who aren’t great candidates for LASIK.

Like, you have dry eye, like, your correction’s too high for LASIK. But it actually is attractive to patients because it’s removable just like a contact lens. So, unlike a tattoo or unlike LASIK, we can’t reverse it, but this implantable contact lens is actually removable technology.

Ben: Well, let’s check this out. So, Kristen, the last time you were here, you told her she was a good candidate for this new procedure called, is it EVO or some sort of removable lens? She’s got a question for you.

Kristen: Hi, Dr. Chu. I’ve worn contacts most of my life and at night I rock these coke bottle glasses. Now, I explored LASIK, but I was told that I was not a good candidate because of the size of my cornea. So, I’m wondering if I would be a good candidate for these EVO lenses.

Lindsey: Good question.

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Dr. Chu: That’s a great question. So, for patients like Kristen whose…their correction, their glasses are very, very thick, and their corneas may be too thin to have LASIK surgery, the implantable contact lens allows them to have surgery and to actually achieve 20/20 vision just by simply putting a lens inside their eye that never has to be removed or touched by the patient.

Ben: Really?

Dr. Chu: Yep. Quick recovery, 10-minute surgery, pain-free. So, Kristen could be a good candidate.

Ben: Does that go over the outside of your eyes or go underneath one of the membranes or a layer of your eye?

Dr. Chu: Yeah. Actually, we make a small incision, and it goes behind the colored part of your eye.

Lindsey: It seems what you guys can do in this industry is just phenomenal.

Dr. Chu: Yeah. It’s been amazing to watch over the last 25 years. I look back…

Lindsey: I would imagine.

Dr. Chu: …when, in 1999, when I started my practice, we had one procedure, and it was LASIK. And now…

Lindsey: That doesn’t seem that long ago. But…

Dr. Chu: Right. And now there’s, like, 10 different procedures that we have to help people see better.

Ben: So, okay. Caution everybody. So going back to LASIK. I got LASIK done all the way back in, like, the early 2000s in San Diego, okay? This is when they still used the razor blade technique, okay? Now, San Diego, much like Northern…Minnesota in the winter is dry. So they told me, “Go home, take a nap. You know, you’ll wake up and you’ll be able to read the clock on the other side of the room.”

Well, I had a fan going, it was the afternoon. I woke up and my eyelid caught my…I don’t know, what do you call it…in wrinkled [SP]…that little flap that you guys take off. That’s painful. So, let’s bring this thing full circle. If you’re gonna get LASIK and it’s this time of year, make sure you put those goopy eyedrops in if you need to take a nap because it is painful if you don’t.

Dr. Chu: Yeah. The more you keep your eyes closed in the first few hours, the safer it is.

Lindsey: Listen to the doctor’s orders.

Ben: I know. All right. Thanks so much. I really appreciate it.

Lindsey: Nice to meet you, Dr. Chu.

Dr. Chu: Thank you. Nice to meet you.

Ben: All right. Dr. Chu has many options for eye care as you guys just heard. So there isn’t a one-size-fit-all solution for your vision. But the team at Chu Vision can evaluate your personal situation and match you with the procedure that’s gonna work best for you. Well, to start, go to chuvision.com and take a vision self-test.

Dr. Ralph Chu LASIK surgeon Minneapolis Ophthalmologists

Board-certified ophthalmologist Dr. Ralph Chu is a fellowship-trained corneal specialist and a nationally recognized leader in refractive and cataract procedures. His specialty areas include cataract, LASIK, cornea, and minimally invasive glaucoma surgeries for patients in the Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Twin Cities areas.

Posted on February 6, 2023

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