July 2019
Volume 60, Issue 9
Open Access
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   July 2019
Use of Social Media as a Tool to Enhance Public Awareness of Leukocoria
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Aisha Amber Mumtaz
    Ophthalmology, University of Maryland Medical Center, Lutherville, Maryland, United States
  • Janet Alexander
    Ophthalmology, University of Maryland Medical Center, Lutherville, Maryland, United States
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships   Aisha Mumtaz, None; Janet Alexander, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  none
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science July 2019, Vol.60, 3139. doi:
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      Aisha Amber Mumtaz, Janet Alexander; Use of Social Media as a Tool to Enhance Public Awareness of Leukocoria. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2019;60(9):3139.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Purpose : Young adults increasingly rely upon social media for their health-related information. 45 percent of consumers report social media influences their decision to seek medical care. Health prevention messages are more effective with images, and with Instagram being the most popular photo sharing platform to-date with over 800 million monthly active users, we hope to investigate Instagram in order to understand how users utilize platforms for early recognition of disease.
Leukocoria is a common and important presenting eye symptom among the pediatric population. This finding may indicate the presence of a cataract or retinoblastoma, and a delay in these diagnoses can result in worse outcomes for children.
We aim to examine Instagram to better understand how users spread information, regarding leukocoria and related eye diseases including, retinoblastoma and congenital cataracts.

Methods : We generated a list of 9 most common hashtags related to the ophthalmologic sign, leukocoria.The following hashtags were used: #Leukocoria, #Retinoblastoma, #Retinoblastomaawareness, #Retinoblastomawarrior, #Retinoblastomasurvivor, #knowtheglow, #congenitalcataractS, #congentialcataract, and #congenitalcataractawareness. We analyzed a total of 23,536 hashtags from October 2014 to October 2018. The top posts with the most views and user engagement were analyzed to better understand what content is on Instagram. Content of the posts were grouped into the following categories: Education, Awareness, Research, Personal topics, Fundraising, or Promotional (referencing to an institution/practice).

Results : Most consumers using the 9 hashtags posted health related content (96%). Preliminary results showed most consumers were using their accounts to discuss their personal stories (i.e topics related to diagnosis, patching, glasses, eye prosthesis, or surgery) with 57% of posts related to personal topics. Other posts were used to promote awareness (32%), and education (7%). Few postings discussed research (<1%), fundraising (2%), or promotional (2%) services.

Conclusions : It is important for health care providers to know what type of information is being distributed among patients, but also how to use social media as a platform to promote disease awareness, and possible disease prevention. Social media has the potential to be a cost-effective way to reach a large number of young adults, and target health related information to large audiences.

This abstract was presented at the 2019 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Vancouver, Canada, April 28 - May 2, 2019.


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