Individuals routinely search the Internet and social media for information about health care, but of course, some sources are more reliable than others. New research that looked at the quality, reliability and educational content of YouTube videos featuring soft contact lenses found

some contained useful information; however, most fell short.

Like many Internet sources, videos on YouTube do not go through an editorial review process and may not be updated regularly; therefore, this platform may offer low quality and misleading information, the authors noted.

The investigative team from Turkey conducted an online YouTube search for the terms “contact lens,” “contact lens insertion and removal,” “contact lens wearing” and “contact lens care.” Videos were evaluated using three checklists that included criteria from the modified DISCERN, JAMA and the Global Quality Score.  Researchers also considered video popularity through the video power index.

The investigation classified the videos into three groups according to the source of the upload: group one: universities/occupational organizations, group two: medical ad/profit-oriented companies and group three: independent users.

Among the 200 videos first analyzed, 79 were included in the final analysis.

The modified DISCERN scoring system evaluated the clarity, reliability,

bias, presentation of additional information sources and content uncertainty, with the highest score being five. The JAMA scoring system evaluated the reliability and quality of health-related resources. Its criteria are authorship, reference, disclosures and currency, with a minimum score of zero and a maximum of four. The Global Quality Scoring System (scored one to five) reflected the information presented in the video, the flow of information presented in videos, benefits and ease of use by the patient.

The mean DISCERN score of the videos was roughly 2.3, the mean JAMA score was 1.2, and the mean GQS value was 3.4.

The items in group one, which consisted of educational videos with high quality and reliability, constituted 13.9% of the total videos. Group three, which had the lowest scores in all scoring systems, constituted 42% of the total videos.

Content was also evaluated on something called the video power index (VPI), defined as view ratio multiplied by like ratio, divided by 100. “More interestingly, the VPI values of these videos were higher than the other groups. Unfortunately, these results show that videos with low reliability and quality have higher activity/participation ratios. Most of the videos in this group are of poor quality and unlikely to be beneficial for patients,” the investigators wrote.

 For example, information was lacking regarding wear and care recommendations such as

CL and CL cases hygiene and behaviors such as not sleeping, swimming and showering in lenses.

There was no significant difference between the video sources according to the VPI.

“The results of our study show that the quality of information about CLs on YouTube needs to be improved,” researchers wrote in their paper. “Eye care providers should be aware of these sources and steer CL wearers to information sources that provide accurate and reliable information and do not contain misleading information.”

 Optometrist Justin Bazan of Park Slope Eye in Brooklyn affirms that YouTube has amassed a very large library of contact lenses related videos that vary in quality and messaging.

“Help your patients find the best ones by curating a playlist on your own YouTube channel,” Dr. Bazan suggests. “Include this link in email correspondence to your contact lens patients.”

Yildiz MB, Yildiz E, Balci S, et al. Evaluation of the quality, reliability, and educational content of YouTube videos as an information source for soft contact lenses. Eye Contact Lens. April 27, 2021. [Epub ahead of print].