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January 2002

AREDS Investigators Distort Findings

Arch Ophthalmol. 2002;120(1):100. doi:

In my opinion, the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) investigators promoted a nonsignificant result into a conclusive recommendation.1 Here is how they did it.

The primary study outcomes for AREDS are explicitly stated in the "Participants and Methods" section of the article: (1) progression to advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and (2) a 15-letter decrease in visual acuity. These outcomes were to be evaluated in all patients by independent tests of significance of the 2 primary treatments. This carefully specified primary analysis led to 4 tests, none of which was statistically significant. One, testing the effect of zinc on progression to advanced AMD, achieved a level of significance defined by the investigators as suggestive.

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