Iridology – Do Your Eyes Tell a Deeper Story?

It’s not so much science in the evidence-based way we understand science to be, as it’s more likely just an interesting idea, but for proponents of Iridology, a person’s eyes, specifically the patterns and colors of the iris, can be studied to determine important information about a person’s overall health. 

Iridologists as they are called, use charts of a person’s iris to make specific observations. The iris is divided into multiple zones, each of which is thought to represent a different aspect or organ of the human body. It turns out that the features of the iris are one of the most stable features of the human body throughout life. Does that mean the colors and patterns of the eye can provide information about a person’s systemic health? Iridologists claim they do, but science doesn’t quite see it that way…

The Eyes Look Backwards

Iridology dates its conception back to at least 1670 when in Dresden, Germany, the physician Philippus Meyens described segments of the iris according to body regions in his foundational book on the subject titled “Chiromatica Medica.”

Over two hundred years later in 1893, Nils Liljequist, a Swedish priest, doctor, and healer at the time, published an atlas containing 258 black and white illustrations and 12 color illustrations of the iris, known as the Diagnosis of the Eye, making him one of the “fathers” of modern Iridology.

The still dubious practice finally got a foothold in the United States in the 1950s when Bernard Jensen, an American chiropractor, began giving classes in his own methods of Iridology.

Looking for Answers in the Eyes

Iridologists study the iris with lights, magnifying glasses, cameras, and microscopes observing for changes in the tissue as well as specific pigmentation and patterns that when compared to an "iris chart" that correlates zones of the iris with parts of the body, is used to diagnose illness and/or predict a person’s susceptibility to illness later on.

Most iris charts divide the iris into approximately 80–90 zones, each associated with a different part of the body. For example, the zone corresponding to the kidney is in the lower right part of the iris.

Bernard Jensen explained his belief by saying, "Nerve fibers in the iris respond to changes in body tissues by manifesting a reflex physiology that corresponds to specific tissue changes and locations.” Despite his claims, science doesn’t seem to agree.

The Eyes Have It. Or Maybe They Don’t

The majority of scientific research into the study, and medical doctors in general all reject the claims of iridology and quite universally call it a pseudoscience. There is to date no clinical data backing the claims that iridology offers anything at all to the diagnosis of illness.

To the contrary, it is a well-established scientific fact that the patterns and colors of the iris do not change in any substantial way throughout an individual's life, thereby upending the very basic premise of iridology. That said, there are those that continue to study, practice, and believe in it enough that iridology is still coloring how some people see the world.

“I never cared much for moonlit skies never winked back at Fireflies But now that the stars are in your eyes I'm beginning to see the light” – Ella Fitzgerald

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