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John Michael Guest, Anju Goyal, Nariman Nassiri, Bret A Hughes, Mark S Juzych; Correlation of Burden of Ophthalmic Diseases with Frequency of Search Engine Terms on Google Trends between 2010 and 2016. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2017;58(8):2205. doi: https://doi.org/.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Patients use search engines to research and educate themselves on healthcare topics. Google Trends has data that can show how often specific search-terms are entered into Google’s search engine relative to one another (up to 5 terms). In this study we aimed to investigate the correlation between burden of 5 ophthalmic diseases in the US and relative search-term percentage on Google.
To quantify disease burden we used the rate of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) measured by the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) project in 2015 for cataract, glaucoma, refraction and accommodation disorders, macular degeneration, and other vision loss. These 5 diagnoses were searched on Google Trends with the filters “United States”, “2010-2016”, “Health”, and “Web searches”; refraction and accommodation disorders was replaced with the term “glasses”, and other vision loss (57 different diagnoses) was replaced with “vision loss”. The same was done for the treatments by simply adding the word “treatment” after the diagnosis, except for using the term “glasses” for refractive and accommodation disorders treatment. “Glasses” in March 2013 had the highest rate of search and was set at 100%. The rate of search for diseases and treatments in other months was compared with it and the percentage for each month was calculated. Percentages were averaged from 2010-2016. The relative search-term percentage vs. DALYs rate per 100,00 population was plotted and a best fit line was calculated to determine correlation between the two.
Relative public interest based on Google search-term percentage were as follows; “glasses” (72%), “vision loss” (12%), “cataract” (8%), “cataract surgery” (5%) “glaucoma” (5%), “glaucoma treatment” (1%), “macular degeneration” (2%), “macular degeneration treatment” (0%). Rate of DALYs per 100,000 population in the US were; refraction and accommodation disorders (92.86), cataract (17.27), other vision loss (13.49), macular degeneration (8.24), and glaucoma (5.43). Figure 1 shows a strong positive correlation with a best fit line for diagnosis terms (R2=.9776), and treatment terms (R2=.9951).
Relative search-term percentage for diagnosis and treatment on Google Trends strongly correlates with the burden of disease for common ophthalmic diseases in the US. Google Trends could be helpful in studying epidemiology of eye diseases in the US.
This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2017 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Baltimore, MD, May 7-11, 2017.
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