Report: Oculoplastic Specialists Must Improve Social Media Visibility

Doctor painting lines on woman's eyelid for surgery
While most oculoplastic content on TikTok is created by surgeons, their posts receive fewer views than posts from non-clinicians.

Ophthalmologists, oculoplastic surgeons, and their teams are key sources of evidence-based social media content that can educate prospective patients on practical expectations for eye procedures and lessen intraoperative stress. Prior studies have also demonstrated individuals who viewed cosmetic surgery clips are more apt to go forward with procedures such as these. 

Perceptions of an ocular disorder and its treatment can be influenced by physicians, including media published on the social network TikTok. The video-sharing platform, for which 60% of viewers are between 16 and 24 years of age, reaches approximately 130 million individuals in the US each month — 1 billion globally, states a report in Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. The platform hosts 15- to 60-second films, with interactive features. “Analysis of 386 TikTok videos revealed that the top oculoplastics-related content amassed more than 200 million views and 15 million likes, reflecting both the popularity and high demand for health information on this platform,” according to the report.

From October, 16 to November 4, 2021, researchers employed 25 oculoplastic-directed hashtags to gather the top 20 TikTok videos for each tag: 386 English language clips. Patients posted most (38.1%), chiefly portraying before–after footage. As for reel types, live procedures were most frequently viewed, educational themes a distant second, and patient experience third. Subjects including product review, humor, self-promotion, career-related, and “other” were less watched. The 8 clip types differed significantly for views (P =.0007) and shares (P =.02).

Films posted by non-ophthalmology MDs or DOs led for views and shares, with those uploaded by professionals, such as aestheticians the next highest watched, and nonphysician health care providers, including optometrists and registered nurses achieving the third-most visibility. Lay persons’ (other) and patients’ content accumulated less views. Although non-ophthalmology MDs and aestheticians published a similar amount of material as oculoplastic surgeons, the latter had the least median views of the 6 groups. 

Investigators speculate that while the data shows a user preference for material by health care professionals, oculoplastic specialists may be underusing hashtags, and these surgeons tend less to have staff members dedicate time for social media communication. To optimize TikTok engagement, the study describes tips including the following:

  1. Publish when users are most active, and increase post quantity.
  2. Use hashtags efficiently.
  3. Select hashtags that are relevant, but not so popular that they are lost in a multitude.
  4. Engage with others who post material.
  5. Consider trending songs and sounds — TikTok’s algorithm feeds previously-liked audio.

Subanalyses were also conducted to evaluate the 46 educational clips. A modified DISCERN test — demonstrated as reliable for video — revealed that generally, quality was good and there were no statistically significant differences based on who published the content. Understandability and actionability was gauged with the Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool (PEMAT), and accuracy was measured with a modified Medical Information and Content Index test. The highest scores were earned by ophthalmologists, followed in order by nonophthalmology physicians, the optometrists and nurses category, and patients. Content created by physicians scored highest in the PEMAT (P =.0053).

The transient character of TikTok limits this study — a particular month’s trends may be entirely different from the next. Also, searching by hashtag may miss popular videos fed to account-holders’ streams via influencers and topics they follow directly. Nonetheless, accurate content is needed because some lay posts promoted unproven home cures such as “cilia epilation for a stye.”


Cheng T, Wang F, Barmettler A. #Oculoplastics: an analysis of TikTok’s top oculoplastics contentOphthalmic Plast Reconstr Surg. Published online March 23, 2022. doi:10.1097/IOP.0000000000002158