Crowd-sourced Ontology for Photoleukocoria: Identifying Common Internet Search Terms for a Potentially Important Pediatric Ophthalmic Sign

Sandra E. Staffieri, Lisa S. Kearns, Paul G. Sanfilippo, Jamie E. Craig, David A. Mackey, Alex W. Hewitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: Leukocoria is the most common presenting sign for pediatric eye disease including retinoblastoma and cataract, with worse outcomes if diagnosis is delayed. We investigated whether individuals could identify leukocoria in photographs (photoleukocoria) and examined their subsequent Internet search behavior. Methods: Using a web-based questionnaire, in this cross-sectional study we invited adults aged over 18 years to view two photographs of a child with photoleukocoria, and then search the Internet to determine a possible diagnosis and action plan. The most commonly used search terms and websites accessed were recorded. Results: The questionnaire was completed by 1639 individuals. Facebook advertisement was the most effective recruitment strategy. The mean age of all respondents was 38.95 ± 14.59 years (range, 18-83), 94% were female, and 59.3% had children. An abnormality in the images presented was identified by 1613 (98.4%) participants. The most commonly used search terms were: ‘‘white,’’ ‘‘pupil,’’ ‘‘photo,’’ and ‘‘eye’’ reaching a variety of appropriate websites or links to print or social media articles. Conclusions: Different words or phrases were used to describe the same observation of photoleukocoria leading to a range of websites. Variations in the description of observed signs and search words influenced the sites reached, information obtained, and subsequent help-seeking intentions. Translational Relevance: Identifying the most commonly used search terms for photoleukocoria is an important step for search engine optimization. Being directed to the most appropriate websites informing of the significance of photoleukocoria and the appropriate actions to take could improve delays in diagnosis of important pediatric eye disease such as retinoblastoma or cataract.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18
Number of pages9
JournalTranslational Vision Science & Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • ontology
  • Crowd-sourced
  • Pediatric eye disease
  • Leukocoria
  • retinoblastoma
  • cataracts
  • Information-seeking behaviour
  • Retinoblastoma


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