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 don't 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 weren't able to reproduce highly
accurate images. High quality slit lamp microscopy of the live iris has mostly
been underutilized. 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.1 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.2-5 This has been discussed at
length in several Iridology Review articles.6,7 Aside from occasional bias
from the researchers,8 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 devastating.9 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.10-12 An appropriately designed study from Russia,
published in the Iridology Review, Spring, 2000 clearly identified the predictive
value of the iris on health.13 Also, an example of a well-designed iris study
has been outlined.14
Several former Iridologists have written critical evaluations of the practice.15,16
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
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.17-21
We hope the evolution of Iris Biometrics will put to rest the improper emphasis
on iris structural changes, including beliefs in the progression of sub-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.22
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
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
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.24-34
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.
1. Coulter, Harris L., Divided Legacy, Science and Ethics in American
Medicine 1800- 1914, North Atlantic Books, Richmond, CA 2nd Ed.,
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 Ð 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,
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,
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
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."