Flashes, Floaters, and Retinal Detachment Content on Social Media: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of Trending Content

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science


urpose : To assess the quality and content of patient education videos on retinal detachments available on TikTok, a popular social media platform.

Methods : A cross-sectional analysis of content on TikTok was conducted on December 22, 2022, utilizing the hashtags #retinaldetachment #eyefloaters #eyeflashes #floaters #flashes. Videos with less than 50 likes or non-English language were excluded. Engagement was calculated using number of views, likes, shares, and comments. Health information quality was assessed using the DISCERN tool. ANOVA and unpaired t-tests were used for statistical significance.

Results : A total of 150 TikTok videos were analyzed, amassing 21,746,440 views, 1,629,354 likes, 37,991 comments, and 38,148 shares. Video types included educational content (60.0%), personal anecdotes (25.3%), home remedies (12.0%), and product advertisements (2.7%). Content creators were further subclassified into patients (18.7%), physicians (10%), non-physician medical providers (35.3%), non-medical individuals (22.0%), and private companies (4.7%). The majority of creators were female (60.0%), followed by male (34.0%), non-binary (0.7%), and gender unspecified (4.7%). DISCERN scores varied from 15 to 53, with a mean score falling into the poor range (27.55±6.06). Medical content creators had a higher score of 30.03±5.96 compared to non-medical content creators with 24.55±4.71 (p-value<10-7). There was no statistically significant difference in scores between physicians and non-physician medical providers, which primarily consisted of optometrists (79.1%). Non-physician medical providers demonstrated higher scores compared to non-medical individuals (p<0.005), while physicians demonstrated higher scores compared to all other groups (p<0.05). Nevertheless, mean DISCERN scores for medical providers were still poor. Non-medical content creators had a higher mean engagement rate of 6.6% compared to medical creators with 4.6% (p<0.005). Of the home remedies suggested, 27.3% were found to be evidence-based.

Conclusions : Despite medical content creators receiving the highest mean DISCERN scores, their videos fell behind non-medical creators in engagement rates. Compared to other specialties, retinal ophthalmology appears to be lacking an online presence. With the expansion of social media, it is imperative to ensure that medical content is of high quality and accuracy.





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Annual Meeting Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, ARVO 2023, April 23-27, 2023, New Orleans, LA