Sinead Corcoran Dye looks into whether the eyes have it when it comes to health.
We’ve all heard the saying, “the eyes are the windows to the soul,” but there’s one alternative medicine technique that takes this seriously. Very seriously.
Iridology is the study of the iris, the coloured part of your eye, for indications of bodily health and disease.
Practitioners claim that patterns, colours, and other characteristics of the iris can be examined to determine information about a patient’s systemic health.
Iridologists then refer to maps of the iris, where the iris is divided into 60 sections (much like the face of a clock), and each segment is related to an inner organ or bodily function.
According to iridology theory irises are either blue or brown and iridologists believe any colour variations are a corruption of what happens in our life.
For instance, if our digestive system is not eliminating all toxins, these will accumulate in the body and show in the iris.
There may be stress rings, iron, or markings or colours that indicate changes in cholesterol and blood sugar levels, the state of the immune system, memory, and circulation issues.
Modern iridology dates back to a Hungarian doctor, Ignatz von Peczely, in the late 1800s but the Mayans, Egyptians, Chinese and Incas were also aware of iris markings and their link to health.
While some professionals feel iridology can be a very useful tool to detect many health conditions, it remains controversial, as published research does not verify its claims.
A 2000 research article by Jama Ophthalmology, titled Iridology: Not Useful and Potentially Harmful, searched three medical databases and 77 publications to determine iridology’s effectiveness.
The research concluded that “iridology is not a useful diagnostic tool,” and “does not appear to have any validity in the context of conventional medicine.”
Researchers also explored whether iridology is harmful.
“Waste of money and time are two obvious undesired effects,” said the article.
“The real problem, however, might be false-negative diagnoses: someone may feel unwell, go to an iridologist, and be given a clean bill of health. Subsequently, this person could be found to have a serious disease. In such cases, valuable time for early treatment (and indeed lives) can be lost through the use of iridology.”
I, of course, had to try it out, so I visited an Auckland-based naturopath.
She began by taking photos of my eyes with an iPhone camera, and then analysed the images while looking at an iridology chart.
First, she told me I had near-perfect irises, which was nice to hear, but then proceeded to rattle off a list of ailments I appeared to have based on my eyeballs.
Right-leg weakness, a tense neck, an underactive digestive system, an overactive spleen, poor posture and a strained jaw and throat. I felt fine, so naturally, I took this with a grain of salt.
I was then prescribed a list of supplements to take to improve my physical woes, including calcium, magnesium and silica and I was told I need to eat alkalising foods like lemons to reduce acidity in my body.
I was also meant to start eating kelp, start listening to vibro-acoustic therapy music, do exercise to calm my nervous system and submerge my body in water whenever possible.
I’m not really a naturopathy person, but it all sounds nice?
Going forward, I will probably get my medical advice and prescriptions from a GP, who looks at more than just my eyeballs.