Iridology is a technique in which the patterns, colours 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 that correspond to specific parts of the human body. Iridologists see the eyes as ‘windows’ into the body's state of health. Like fingerprints or faces, no two irises are exactly alike. The iris structure is so unique it is now being used for security identification at ATM machines and airports.
Iridology research began in in Europe in 1670 when Dr Philippus Meyens published a paper describing the eyes of his patients when they became sick or injured. He also noticed changes in the eye that came with subsequent healing and was able to link points on the iris to specific parts of the body. By observing the eye, he was eventually able to identify areas in the body in need of support which would show up in the eye long before physical symptoms would manifest. Iridology was taken up in the US by chiropractors as a diagnostic tool but it declined with the decline in natural therapies following the Flexner report in 1910. (See the entry for Chiropractic)
The four principles that form the cornerstones of iridology are:
Assessing the condition of the nerves
Assessing the condition of the blood and lymph system
Checking that there is adequate circulation
Exploring nutrition - rest quality, breathing - state of mind
Iridologists generally use equipment such as a flashlight and magnifying glass, cameras or slit-lamp microscopes to examine a patient's irises 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.
Iridologists understand that details in the iris reflect changes in the tissues of the corresponding body organs, which means that a condition in the body translates 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 (degenerated pigmentation spots), which may indicate various other health conditions, as interpreted in context. The fundamental goal of iridology is prevention of serious degenerative processes by integrating nutritional, mechanical (chiropractic), spiritual and emotional support in a truly holistic manner.
The Guild of Naturopathic Iridologists International