Presbyopia is defined as the age-related deterioration of near vision over time and is likely to be experienced in over 80% of people aged 40 years or older. Individuals with presbyopia have difficulty with tasks that require them to focus on near located objects. It is not currently possible to stop or reverse the aging process that causes presbyopia; generally it is corrected with glasses, contact lenses, surgery, or use of a magnifying glass.
This study aimed to explore how individuals used social media to describe their experience of presbyopia with regard to the symptoms experienced and the impacts of presbyopia on their quality of life.
Social media sources including twitter, forums, blogs, and news outlets were searched using a pre-defined search string relating to symptoms and impacts of presbyopia. The data downloaded, based on the key words, underwent manual review to identify the relevant data points. Relevant posts were further manually analysed through a process of data tagging, categorization and clustering. Key themes relating to symptoms, impacts, treatment and the lived experience were identified.
A total of 4456 social media posts related to presbyopia were identified between May and August 2017. Random sampling methodology selected 2229 posts for manual review, with 1470 of these posts identified as relevant to the study objectives. Twitter was the most commonly used channel for discussions focussed on individual experience compared to forums and blogs. The majority of posts originated in Spain (38%) and the US (29%). The social media posts highlighted that presbyopia individuals on social media most frequently reported experiencing difficulty reading small print (n=24), difficulty focusing on near objects (n=15) and eye strain (n=12). They often (70%) experience an emotional burden due to their symptoms. Daily activities such as reading (n=46) and using electronic devices (n=21) are impacted by presbyopia, leading to difficulty completing everyday tasks and precision tasks in the workplace (n=10).
Findings from this social media listening study provide insight into how people with presbyopia discuss their condition online and highlight the impact of presbyopia on individuals’ quality of life. The social media listening methodology can be used to generate insights into the lived experience of a condition, but it is recommended that this research is combined with prospective qualitative research for added rigour and confirmation of the relevance of the findings reported here.