Choice of analytic approach for eye-specific outcomes: one eye or two?

Am J Ophthalmol. 2012 Mar;153(3):571-579.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2011.08.032. Epub 2011 Nov 10.


Purpose: To investigate the use of analytic approaches for eye-specific outcomes in ophthalmology publications.

Design: A review of analytic approaches used in original research articles published in ophthalmology journals.

Methods: All 161 research articles published in 5 ophthalmology journals in the first 2 months of 2008 were considered. Publications were categorized according to analytic approach: 1 eye selected, both eyes contribute, or per-individual outcome. Studies were considered suboptimal when criteria for eye selection were not provided or when measurements from both eyes were included without interocular correlation being considered. Visual impairment prevalence data were used to illustrate analytic approach choices.

Results: Measurements from both eyes were included in 38% of the 112 studies that used statistical inferential techniques. In 31 (74%), there was no mention of possible correlation. Only 7% used statistical methods appropriate for correlated outcomes. In 35 studies (31%), measurements from 1 eye were selected; 31% of these did not provide selection criteria. In 67%, only univariate tests were used. A review of 47 articles published in 2011 produced similar findings. Characteristics of studies were not found to differ according whether the studies were suboptimal. Using a test appropriate for correlated outcomes resulted in a P value 3.5 times that obtained ignoring the correlation.

Conclusions: Between-eye correlation seems not to be assessed commonly in ophthalmology publications, although its knowledge aids the choice of analytic approach when eye-specific variables are of interest. Statistical methods appropriate for correlated ocular outcome data are not being applied widely.

MeSH terms

  • Bias
  • Eye Diseases / therapy*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Ophthalmology / methods*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Research Design
  • Serial Publications
  • Statistics as Topic / methods*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires