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IRIDOLOGY
Diagnostic Techniques


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  • DESCRIPTION

    Pioneered in Hungary in the 19th century, iridology (also known as iridodiagnosis) uses the appearance of the eye, and in particular the iris, to assess mental and physical health. Practitioners claim to identify past and present disorders and predict future problems by studying the color, condition, and markings of a patient's iris. They claim not to diagnose an actual disease but to pinpoint weaknesses in the body so that health problems can be avoided. Iridology is sometimes used as an additional diagnostic tool by practitioners of therapies such as homeopathy and naturopathy, especially in continental Europe.




    HISTORY

    Clear, shining eyes have been associated with good health since ancient times. A form of iridology may have been used by the Greek physician Hippocrates in the 5th century BC. The first explicit description of iridological principles such as homolaterality (without using the word iridology) are found in Chiromatica Medica, a famous work published in 1665 and reprinted in 1670 and 1691 by Philippus Meyeus (Philip Meyen von Coburg).

    In the late 19th century was the theory of modern iridology first outlined by a Hungarian doctor, Ignatz von Peczely. The first use of the word Augendiagnostik ("eye diagnosis," loosely translated as iridology) began with Ignaz von Peczely. As a child, von Peczely was trying to release a trapped owl when the bird broke its leg. At that moment, he noticed a dark mark appearing in the owl's iris, which turned white as the leg healed. When von Peczely became a doctor, he dedicated his career to charting patients' diseases from markings in the iris.

    The most common story is that he got the idea for this diagnostic tool after seeing similar streaks in the eyes of a man he was treating for a broken leg and the eyes of an owl whose leg von Peczely had broken many years before. At the First International Iridological Congress, Ignaz von Peczely's nephew, August von Peczely, dismissed this myth as apocryphal, and maintained that such claims were irreproducible.

    The German contribution in the field of natural healing is due to a minister Pastor Felke, who developed a form of homeopathy for treating specific illnesses and described new iris signs in the early 1900s. However, Pastor Felke was subject to long and bitter litigation. The Felke Institute in Gerlingen, Germany was established as a leading center of iridological research and training.

    Iridology became better known in the United States in the 1950s, when Bernard Jensen, an American chiropractor, began giving classes in his own method. This is in direct relationship with P. Johannes Thiel, Eduard Lahn (who became an American under the name of Edward Lane) and J Haskell Kritzer. Jensen insisted on the importance of the body's exposure to toxins, and the use of natural foods as detoxifiers.

    Dr. Bernard Jensen

    In 1950, a detailed map of the iris was constructed by American doctor Bernard Jensen. It is this diagnostic tool that is used by iridologists today.


    Map of the Iris

    Map of the Iris: Each iris is divided into sections corresponding to different parts of the body and body systems.


    Iridology Chart developed by Dr. Bernard Jensen.





    CONSULTING A PRACTITIONER

    An iris includes thousands of nerve endings, and iridologists claim that it is therefore linked to every body organ and tissue. Neuro-optic reflexes in the iris are said to react to disorders in the body, marking or discoloring the related part of the iris.

    Iridology is an alternative medicine technique whose proponents believe that patterns, colors, and other characteristics of the iris can be examined to determine information about a patient's systemic health. Practitioners match their observations to iris charts which divide the iris into zones corresponding to specific parts of the human body. Iridologists see the eyes as "windows" into the body's state of health.

    Iridologists use the charts to distinguish between healthy systems and organs in the body and those which are overactive, inflamed, or distressed. Iridologists believe this information may be used to demonstrate a patient's susceptibility towards certain illnesses, to reflect past medical problems, or to predict later consequences of health problems which may be developing.

    As it is not a method of treatment but a diagnostic tool, its practitioners often study other branches of alternative medicine, such as naturopathy.

    PRACTITIONER CONSULTATION

    The first consultation lasts about an hour. Some iridologists use a camera to make slides of your irises or slit-lamp microscopes, but other practitioners may simply examine your eyes with an ophthalmoscope or even a flashlight and magnifying glass.

    Examining the eye.

    The practitioner may use a camera with a special lens and sidelighting to produce a photographic slide of each iris. The slides are later projected onto a large screen for detailed analysis.


    The fibers radiating from the pupil are closely examined, as is the condition of the iris. A patient's irises are examined for tissue changes, as well as features such as specific pigment patterns and irregular stromal architecture. The markings and patterns are compared to an iris chart that correlates zones of the iris with parts of the body. Typical charts divide the iris into approximately 80-90 zones. For example, the zone corresponding to the kidney is in the lower part of the iris, just before 6 o'clock. There are minor variations between charts' associations between body parts and areas of the iris. White marks, for example, are said to indicate inflammation in the organ related to that part of the iris; a dark rim around the iris reveals the presence of "toxins". Eye color is believed to be linked to constitution: those with blue eyes are said to be prone to complaints such as arthritis, brown eyes to a slow metabolic rate, and mixed irises to a weak digestion.

    According to iridologists, details in the iris reflect changes in the tissues of the corresponding body organs. One well-known practitioner, Dr. Bernard Jensen, puts it this way: "Nerve fibers in the iris respond to changes in body tissues by manifesting a reflex physiology that corresponds to specific tissue changes and locations." This means that a bodily condition will translate to a noticeable change in the appearance of the iris. For example, acute inflammatory, chronic inflammatory and catarrhal signs may indicate involvement, maintenance, or healing of corresponding distant tissues, respectively. Other features that iridologists look for are contraction rings and Klumpenzellen, which may indicate various other health conditions, as interpreted in context.

    The practitioner will treat any conditions identified using the therapy with which he works, or will refer you to a specialist.

    REGULATION, LICENSURE, & CERTIFICATION

    In Canada and the United States, iridology is not regulated or licensed by any governmental agency. Numerous organizations offer certification courses.

    International Iridology Practitioners Association
    Guild of Naturopathic Iridologists International
    Iridology.com: Internet Source For Iridology Information





    EVIDENCE & RESEARCH

    Clinical trials have so far indicated that iridology fails to diagnose disease even when it is present. These trials include a UK study of iridology photographs reported in Complementary Therapies in Medicine in 1996; a 1988 study in the British Medical Journal, using gallbladder disease as the test; and a 1979 study of patients with kidney disease in the Journal of the American Medical Association. (See below for more information about these studies.)

    SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH INTO IRIDOLOGY

    Well controlled scientific evaluation of iridology has shown entirely negative results, with all rigorous double blinded tests failing to find any statistical significance to its claims.

    In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Simon et al., 1979), three iridologists incorrectly identified kidney disease in photographs of irises and often disagreed with each other. The researchers concluded: "Iridology was neither selective nor specific, and the likelihood of correct detection was statistically no better than chance."

    Simon A., Worthen D.M., Mitas JA 2nd. An evaluation of iridology. JAMA. 1979 Sep 8;242(13):1385-9.

    Another study was published in the British Medical Journal (Knipschild, 1988). Paul Knipschild MD, of the University of Limburg in Maastricht, selected 39 patients who were due to have their gall bladder removed the following day, because of suspected gallstones. He also selected a group of people who did not have diseased gall bladders to act as a control. A group of 5 iridologists examined a series of slides of both groups' irises. The iridologists were not able to identify correctly which patients had gall bladder problems and which had healthy gall bladders. For example, one of the iridologists diagnosed 49 percent of the patients with gall stones as having them and 51 percent as not having them. Dr Knipschild concluded: "This study showed that iridology is not a useful diagnostic aid." Iridologists defended themselves and attacked the methodology of the study.

    Knipschild P. Looking for gall bladder disease in the patient's iris. BMJ. 1988 Dec 17;297(6663):1578-81.

    Edzard Ernst said in 2000: "Does iridology work? This search strategy resulted in 77 publications on the subject of iridology. All of the uncontrolled studies and several of the unmasked experiments suggested that iridology was a valid diagnostic tool. The discussion that follows refers to the 4 controlled, masked evaluations of the diagnostic validity of iridology. In conclusion, few controlled studies with masked evaluation of diagnostic validity have been published. None have found any benefit from iridology."





    CONVENTIONAL MEDICAL OPINION

    Most conventional medical practitioners see iridology as a misleading diagnostic technique and reject all the claims of all branches of iridology and label them as pseudoscience or even quackery. Iridologists are rarely physicians. Iridology is only studied at private institutions, and it is not taught at medical schools.

    Critics, including most practitioners of mainstream medicine, dismiss iridology as published studies have indicated a lack of success for its claims. Clinical data does not support any correlation between illness in the body and coinciding observable changes in the iris. In controlled experiments, practitioners of iridology have performed statistically no better than chance in determining the presence of a disease or condition solely through observation of the iris.

    It has been pointed out that the premise of iridology is at odds with the fact that the iris does not undergo substantial changes in an individual's life. Iris texture is a phenotypical feature which develops during gestation and remains unchanged after birth. There is no evidence for changes in the iris pattern other than variations in pigmentation in the first year of life, eventual freckles and variations caused by glaucoma treatment. This stability of iris structures is at the foundation of iris recognition for identification purposes.

    They caution that patients may be unnecessarily distressed by inaccurate and alarmist diagnoses.







    WHY IS IRIDOLOGY SO MISUNDERSTOOD?
    By Bill Caradonna, RPh, ND
    Research Dept. Director
    International Iridology Practitioners Association
    Reprinted from www.townsendletter.com/May2003/iridology0503.htm


    Note: There are three groups of people this article is directed to. First are critics who have no real understanding of Iridology, but have negative opinions. Second are Iridologists who have not been exposed to, or are resistant to updated practices in the field. Third are those who understand and practice modern Iridology, but do not have a historical perspective of this evolution.

    The art and science of Iridology has been undergoing an evolution typical of many alternative health assessment and treatment practices. Through continued observation and correlation, understanding of iris signs and their meaning has increased. This progress is correlated to advancements in microscopy, photography, and computer imaging, as well as communication between Iridologists regarding their observations.

    Limitations of these factors hampered early Iridologists. Older books relied on reproduction of color drawings. Once photography became available, accuracy of the color pictures remained inadequate for many years. Until very recently, computer-based image capture systems were not able to reproduce highly accurate images. High quality slit lamp microscopy of the live iris has mostly been under-utilized. Language differences have hampered communication between Iridologists. To this date, many books and research articles in German and Russian remain untranslated into English.

    In North America, books written in the early 1900s formed the basis for Iridology beliefs that are still present today. It is well known that advancement of most alternative medical practices was non-existent here for a significant portion of the last century. This was due to the development of a monopoly of Western or allopathic medicine. The political and economic factors primarily responsible for this have been well-documented. Iridology and other natural medicine practices were forced underground, away from medical or research-based practitioners. Both clinical (patient based) and research oriented approaches have their strengths. The unfortunate result was that there were very few people who had skills in both worlds.

    Iridology was kept alive by practitioners whose emphasis was more on patient health care than data collection and analysis. This clinical approach led to the strong correlation of proper nutrition and digestive function being an integral part of achieving and maintaining good health.

    In Europe, the political and economic climate that evolved allowed for both worlds to co-exist. Homeopathy and herbal medicine were practiced alongside allopathic approaches. Both MDs and Heilpractikers (Naturopathic practitioners) became involved in Iridology study, evolving the knowledge into a system remarkably different from what has been practiced here. In Russia, Iridology has been taught only to MDs. The higher education level of European Iridologists contrasts with the average Iridologist education level in North America. Because of language issues, many of these observations and advancements have remained inaccessible or available only on a limited basis here.

    Meanwhile, several Iridology studies have been reported in Western scientific medical journals. These studies were all poorly designed. They based their evaluations on outdated Iridology dogma and employed Iridologists who had insufficient training or who still followed faulty beliefs. This has been discussed at length in several Iridology Review articles. Aside from occasional bias from the researchers, it is hard to defend a practice when the practitioners participating in these studies do not use Iridology appropriately. It puts Iridology in a position of double jeopardy. The effects from these negative research studies on the progress of Iridology have been evastating. Outsiders to Iridology often find these as the only sources of research information on which to base their opinions. The Iridology Review has published several studies supportive of Iridology. An appropriately designed study from Russia, published in the Iridology Review, Spring, 2000 clearly identified the predictive value of the iris on health. Also, an example of a well-designed iris study has been outlined.

    Several former Iridologists have written critical evaluations of the practice. They ultimately realized that their Iridology approaches were not supportable. Frankly, if I was practicing Iridology the way they were taught, I would agree with them. Outdated Iridology beliefs have caused most of the transgressions they identified. Unfortunately, these frustrated Iridologists have not been aware of the more modern approaches and more appropriate way to use iridology. This transition away from Iridology was reported to have been a painful experience for some of them, and I understand their pain. I felt the same way when I came to similar realizations about the Western medicine that I was practicing as a pharmacist.

    Some of the closely-held beliefs in North America that have been discarded by modern Iridology include primary iris map-oriented analysis, iris structural changes/healing lines, emphasis on pigmentation changes, with drug deposits as the source of pigment signs. This has been discussed at length in other Iridology Review articles.

    We hope the evolution of Iris Biometrics will put to rest the improper emphasis on iris structural changes, including beliefs in the progression of ub-acute / chronic / degenerative stroma separation levels and healing line formation. While the connective tissue in our body ages over time, there is no anatomical basis for these perceived gross changes. Most iris change appearances can be easily related to the quality and variability of the comparison iris images or differences in pupil tonus. If these structural changes were true, then the iris would not be able to be used as a unique and almost foolproof Biometrics identification method.

    While IIPA has been at the forefront of modernizing Iridology knowledge and practice in North America for almost 20 years, changing the way Iridology is practiced has been a long process. To identify its usefulness outside of personal clinical experience, one of our goals has been to produce more relevant iris research and information. We have done this via publication of the Iridology Review.

    One hindrance of our IIPA Research and Information department efforts to move forward is the amount of time spent answering critics referring to insupportable Iridology beliefs or practices and inappropriate research studies as a basis for criticism. Other attention has been required when improper Iridology information is used to sell a product, such as promoting the existence of iris changes to demonstrate the value of a health supplement.[23] Our department also offers review of study design proposals. Re-orienting researchers away from improper Iridology approaches and study designs takes an enormous amount of effort. I admit, preventing further "improper" research is a laudable goal, and a necessary activity. In other parts of the world, there are not nearly as many of these issues or difficulties sidetracking our brethren in conducting their research or activities.

    For the Western medical researchers of Iridology, my message is this: Each system of medicine can offer its own unique contributions to health care. These systems may have dramatically different approaches and methods. In order to evaluate these properly, we must understand the language that each practice speaks, and not try to apply a singular research paradigm to all. For example, remember when acupuncture was considered quackery? Homeopathy is still considered pure hocus-pocus by many allopathic practitioners in North America while widely respected and practiced in Europe and India. (Can the Queen of England's chief physician be that wrong?). Western medical literature is full of references to the iris that relate to Iridology, but this information is not under the heading of Iridology.

    For Iridologists who have not been exposed to (or are resisting) new information, and Iridologists who have discarded the practice out of frustration, my message is this: In order to be most effective, every system of medicine must be practiced appropriately and within its limitations. This means accurately recognizing what it can and cannot do. Practitioners must constantly evaluate their work with an unbiased eye and be willing to alter beliefs when faced with valid evidence. This is required for all practices of medicine, not just Iridology, in order to benefit clients or patients most effectively.

    Part of the challenge for advancing Iridology in North America has been exposing Iridologists to updated approaches, and disseminating appropriately designed research information. The future may hold information that vastly supersedes what we know now. In time, Iridology may look as different to us as the present does to Iridologists from the past. Hopefully, with the evolution of this practice, we will be able to achieve our objectives and elevate Iridology to its proper place in the health care field. We do not know where this journey will take us, but are fully committed to it.


    REFERENCES

    1. Coulter, Harris L., Divided Legacy, Science and Ethics in American Medicine 1800- 1914, North Atlantic Books, Richmond, CA 2nd Ed., 1982.
    2. Simon, A., Worther, D., Mitas, J., An evaluation of iridology, Journal of the American Medical Association, 1979, #242.
    3. Cockburn, D., A study of the validity of Iris diagnosis. Australian Journal of Optometry, July 1981, Vol. 64, #4.
    4. Knipschild, P., Looking for gall bladder disease in the patient's iris, British Medical Journal, 1988, Volume 297:1578-1581.
    5. Buchanan, T., et al., An Investigation of the relationship between anatomical features in the iris and systemic disease, with reference to iridology, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 1996, Vol. 4, 98-102.
    6. Wolf, H., Western medicine looks at iridology anatomy of a jaundiced eye, Iridology Review Journal, Spring 1987, Vol. 1, #1, 5-7.
    7. Caradonna, B., Western medicine looks at iridology... again, Iridology Review Journal, Winter 1990, Vol. 2, #2, 13-14.
    8. Guinee, P., Letters to the Editor. Iridology Review Journal, Winter 1990, Vol. 2, #2, p6.
    9. Ernst E., Iridology: not useful and potentially harmful, Arch Ophthalmology 2000, Jan:118 Vol. 1 120-121
    10. Berdonces Serra, J. L., An Iridologic study of hospitalized respiratory patients, Iridology Review Journal, Summer 1988, Vol. 2, #1, 4-7.
    11. Berdonces Serra, J. L., Digestive diseases and iridology, Iridology Review Journal, Summer 1988, Vol. 2, #2, 7-10.
    12. Pavlov,R., Iridological criteria of clinical health. Iridology Review Journal, Summer 1988, Vol. 2, #2, 11-12.
    13. Yakymovich, V., Special Monitoring of human endurance and performance. Iridology Review, Spring 2000, Vol. 4, #2.
    14. Caradonna, B., Iridology research part 1 - design - Iridology Review, Winter 1994, Vol. 2, #3.
    15. Mather, J. Sr., Confessions of a former iridologist. http://www.mather.infomedia.com/reality/confessions.html (Link doesn't work, 02/04.)
    16. Tierra, M., A comparative evaluation of diagnostic systems used in herbal medicine. http://www.planetherbs.com/articles/diagnosis.html (Link doesn't work, 02/04.)
    17. Caradonna, B., The corneal arcus reviewed, Iridology Review, Fall 1991, Vol.1 #1.
    18. Caradonna, B., Iris Pigmentation Iridology Review, Spring 1992, Vol.1 #2.
    19. Caradonna, B., Are you practicing healing iridology? A look at European and American iridology models, Part 1 Iridology Review, Winter 1995, Vol. 2 #4.
    20. Caradonna, B., Are you practicing healing iridology? A look at European and American iridology models, Part 2 Iridology Review, Spring 1996, Vol. 3 #1.
    21. Caradonna, B., Iris Pigmentation, Part 2. Drug and chemical exposure and the effects on the eye Iridology Review, Winter 1997, Vol.3 #2.
    22. Newsome, D. and Lowenfeld, I., Iris mechanics II, influence of pupil size on details of iris structure, American Journal of Ophthalmology, Feb. 1971, Vol. 71, #2, 553-73.
    23. Personal correspondence (brochure), Brenda Starr
    24. Friedman, G., et. al., Eye color and hypertension. Medical Hypotheses, 1990, Vol. 33, 201-206.
    25. Landers, D., et. al., Iris pigmentation and reactive motor performance, Journal of Motor Behavior, 1976, Vol. 8 #3, 171-179.
    26. Sutton, P., Association between colour of the iris of the eye and reaction to dental pain. Nature, July 11, 1959, Vol. 184 p. 122.
    27. Rosenberg, A., and Kagan, J., Physical and psychological correlates of behavioral inhibition Developmental Psychobiology, December 1989, Vol. 8 753-70.
    28. Markle, A., Eye color and responsiveness to arousal stimuli. Perceptive Motor Skills, Aug. 1976, Vol. 43, #1, 127-33.
    29. Najim Al-Din, A., et. al., Epidemiology of multiple sclerosis in Arabs in Kuwait: a comparative study between Kuwaitis and Palestinians. Journal of Neurological Sciences, 1990. Vol. 100 137-141
    30. Krizek, V., Iris colour and composition of urinary stones. The Lancet. June 29, 1968, p. 1432
    31. Carney, R., Eye color in atopic dermatitis. Archives of Dermatology. January 1952 Vol. 85 57-61
    32. Kleinstein, R., et. al., Iris color and hearing loss. American Journal Optometric Physiology 1984 March, Vol 61, #3, 145-9
    33. Kent, I., Human iris pigment: a concept of individual reactivity with implications in health and disease. Canadian Psychology Journal. 1956 Vol.1, #3 99-103
    34. Phillips, M., Eye color as a guide to personality, Science Digest, December 1978

    The author would like to thank Dr. Ellen Tart Jensen and Dr. Barbara Kreemer for editorial and philosophical guidance.

    About the Author: Bill Caradonna, RPh, ND is a Registered Pharmacist and licensed Naturopathic Physician. He is co-founder, immediate past President, and currently Research Department director of the International Iridology Practitioners Association (www.iridologyassn.org). He is an IIPA Diplomate certification instructor with 19 years teaching experience. He has written numerous articles on Iridology, and has appeared on the ABC-TV show "Good Morning America."





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  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Labor & Birth
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Blending Chart
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Essential Oil Details
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Links
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Miscarriage
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Post Partum
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Childbearing
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Problems in Pregnancy & Birthing
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Chart of Essential Oils #1
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Chart of Essential Oils #2
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Tips
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Uses
  • MoonDragon's Alternative Health Index
  • MoonDragon's Alternative Health Information Overview
  • MoonDragon's Alternative Health Therapy Index
  • MoonDragon's Alternative Health: Touch & Movement Therapies Index
  • MoonDragon's Alternative Health Therapy: Touch & Movement: Aromatherapy
  • MoonDragon's Alternative Therapy: Touch & Movement - Massage Therapy
  • MoonDragon's Alternative Health: Therapeutic Massage
  • MoonDragon's Holistic Health Links Page 1
  • MoonDragon's Holistic Health Links Page 2
  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Nutrition Basics Index
  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Therapy Index
  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Massage Therapy
  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Hydrotherapy
  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Pain Control Therapy
  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Relaxation Therapy
  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Steam Inhalation Therapy
  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Therapy - Herbal Oils Index







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    MOONDRAGON'S REALM - WEBSITE DIRECTORY


    A website map to help you find what you are looking for on MoonDragon.org's Website. Available pages have been listed under appropriate directory headings.




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