YouTube videos in the English language as a patient education resource for cataract surgery

Int Ophthalmol. 2018 Oct;38(5):1941-1945. doi: 10.1007/s10792-017-0681-5. Epub 2017 Aug 28.


Purpose: To assess the quality of the content of YouTube videos for cataract surgery patient education.

Setting: Hotel Dieu Hospital, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

Design: Observational study.

Methods: "Cataract surgery," "cataract surgery for patients," and "cataract surgery patient education" were used as search terms. The first two pages of search results were reviewed. Descriptive statistics such as video length and view count were obtained. Two cataract surgeons devised 14 criteria important for educating patients about the procedure. Videos were analyzed based on the presence or absence of these criteria. Videos were also assessed for whether they had a primary commercial intent.

Results: Seventy-two videos were analyzed after excluding 48 videos that were duplicate, irrelevant, or not in English. The majority of videos came from a medical professional (71%) and many depicted a real cataract surgery procedure (43%). Twenty-one percent of the videos had a primary commercial intent to promote a practice or product. Out of a total possible 14 points, the mean number of usefulness criteria satisfied was only 2.28 ± 1.80. There was no significant difference in view count between the most useful videos and other videos (p = 0.94). Videos from medical organizations such as the National Health Service were more useful (p < 0.0001).

Conclusions: Cataract surgery videos are popular on YouTube, but most are not adequately educational. Patients may be receiving biased information from videos created with primary commercial intent. Physicians should be aware of the type of information patients may be accessing on YouTube.

Keywords: Cataract surgery; Online; Patient education; Video education; YouTube.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Audiovisual Aids / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cataract Extraction*
  • Cataract*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Internet / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Social Media / statistics & numerical data*
  • Translating*
  • Video Recording / statistics & numerical data*