Recent research has analyzed how patients use social media, but little information exists evaluating how patients utilize social media in the perioperative period or how ophthalmologists and eye institutions integrate social media into their practices. This observational study aimed to examine (1) how patients interact on social media when undergoing LASIK and (2) how ophthalmologists and (3) eye institutions utilize social media accounts. We analyzed 2592 Instagram posts between August 2016 and April 2017 on a related hashtag (#lasiksurgery). Content was coded based on time frame of the post in relation to the procedure, references to return to work/activity, post-surgical photographs, mention of the surgical institution, tone, and complaints regarding the procedure. Twitter and Instagram accounts for 30 ophthalmologists and eye institutes were also located. The 20 most recent posts were categorized by message type and topic (physicians, patients, education, conference, etc.). Patients using the hashtag posted photographs (92%), had a positive tone (88%), referenced the clinic where they were treated (62%), and posted during the day of the procedure (44%). Ophthalmologists' personal tweets focused on research conferences (35%), personal topics (25%), and the accomplishments of other physicians (21%). Eye institutions generally posted content relating to institutional promotion (22%), physician accomplishments (20%), and research publications (19%). Similar to other medical specialties, ophthalmology has a meaningful presence on both Twitter and Instagram. While LASIK patients tend to comment on their renewed vision and return to activity, ophthalmologists post to promote their research and accomplishments.
Keywords: LASIK; Ophthalmologist trends; Refractive surgery; Social media.