The Journal encourages the readership and researchers to challenge the findings or conclusions of articles in a collegial manner through the Correspondence section. Disclosures are required, even for the correspondence section. An editorial also may challenge a manuscript or a topic, but has a different objective and should “provide a forum for interpretive, analytical, or reflective opinions … about clinical, scientific, or socioeconomic issues … [and] should be objective and dispassionate, but is likely to provide alternative points of view and some bias.”
In retrospect, and in the opinion of some readers who have contacted the Journal, the editorial that accompanied the article in the January 2014 issue of the Journal, and discussed above by the authors of the criticized article, was inappropriate. The Editor-in-Chief takes responsibility for a failure of the peer-review process, for failing to guide the editorialists into converting their comments more appropriately to a correspondence (so that the authors could provide a reply), for failing to request the removal of unnecessary inflammatory headings, for failure to manage better the conflicts of interest beyond just disclosures of these authors with commercial ties, and for failure to provide an initial venue for a reply by the authors of the original manuscript. The correspondence above provides a delayed reply and is longer than a usual reply in the Journal because of the issues involved.
The topic of the article and of the editorial is an important one currently in ophthalmology. Debate about the content or issue is healthy, but in this situation was diverted and muddied to some extent by other factors. The Journal, specifically the Editor-in-Chief, apologizes to all the authors and to the readership for this diversion.