An Overview of Iridology

Iridology is an alternative medical discipline which involves the diagnosis of disease by studying the iris of the eye. According to iridologists, the areas of the eye correspond to bodily systems and areas of the body. Changes in the iris, they say, can reflect problems in certain areas of the body. 

Iridology is not a method of treatment, nor is it specifically diagnostic. According to those who study iridology, markings, patterns and abnormalities in the iris can highlight a tendency toward problems with a particular organ group or system, allowing for prescribed treatments. Many practitioners of iridology use it in conjunction with a system of medicine such as reflexology or homeopathy.


Iridology may date back to the mid-1600s, though the word was not used in the description of eye changes that might signal specific health problems. In more recent years, iridologists examine the iris of the eye with a flashlight, slit-eye microscope or other method, and compare what they see with iris charts that divide the eye into as many as 80 or 90 ‘zones’, each zone corresponding to an area of the body.

The Evidence In Favor
There is no support for the claims of iridologists in medical research. Practitioners of iridology make the points that iridology is completely non-invasive and the only discomfort to the patient is the shining of a light into their eyes. In addition, the aim of iridology is to keep a person healthy by spotting early signs of possible problems and prescribing holistic and natural treatments to prevent them from developing into more serious problems.

The Criticisms
Not a single study into iridology and its results have shown any positive results. In most, iridologists made diagnosis that were on the level of guessing or chance. Iridologists contend that a) Iridology is not meant to diagnose specific conditions, and b) most research has involved examinations of photographs of eyes, and iridology is meant to be used with living flesh. In addition, critics fear that iridology could:

  • Lead to incorrect diagnoses, with the effect of either frightening a patient, or lulling him into a false sense of security, or suggest an unnecessary and possibly harmful treatment.
  • May delay the patient seeking treatment for real medical problems which delays treatment.
  • Is a waste of time and money for the patient.
  • Iridology is not licensed or regulated and anyone may practice it, leading to the possibility of fraud and incompetent medical practice.

The Conclusion
There is no medical or scientific proof to support claims by iridologists that they can diagnose disease and potential ill health by studying the iris of the eye. Proper medical treatment and care is an important part of overall health. If your practitioner relies on iridology for diagnosis, ask what other diagnostic criteria he considers important as well.


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