Iridology like any belief claiming to be a science does not have the right to remain silent, and the burden of proof rests entirely with its believers. The main question of course is not one of innocence exactly so much as, whether or not practitioners of this alternative medicine actually see results or if this is all a matter of wishful thinking. In the many years, that this would-be medical diagnostic technique has been around no solid evidence of its accuracy has been forthcoming.
Iridologists claim that every organ in the human body has a corresponding location within the iris. Someone with training could therefore determine if an organ is healthy or not by examining the iris of a patient.
The first real mention of this technique comes from a 19-century Hungarian physician named Ignaz von Peczely. He claimed the idea came to him when he noticed a male patient with a broken leg and odd streaks in his eyes. Remembering years before he had observed such streaks in the eyes of an owl whose leg was also broken he felt this sufficient reason to suggest studying the iris as a tool for diagnosis.
Minister and homeopathy practitioner Pastor Felke kept the idea alive in Germany, but this alternative medicine theory was given greater life in the 1950’s by an American chiropractor named Bernard Jensen. Jensen taught classes in his own method of study and developed a chart on which practitioners could record changes. The chart is divided up into quadrants representing different organs of the body and is still commonly known as the Jensen chart.
Medical doctors also peer into their patient’s eyes looking for signs of disease they just don’t concentrate on the iris. They might look for signs of jaundice, which could mean among other possibilities problems with the liver or to see if the eyes themselves are protruding slightly an indicator of Graves’ disease.
The reason doctors don’t bother looking at the iris is this part of the eye seldom changes. Throughout you life the patterns of your retina and iris are so unchanging they are used to confirm identity for security purposes. Retinal scanning is a biometric technique registering the unique patterns of the retina and iris recognition is similar using a high-resolution image of an individual’s eye.
Skeptics such as Stephen Barrett M.D. on Quackwatch.org point out that among other issues iridology has a poor record in scientific evaluations. For instance, in 1979 Bernard Jensen himself failed a test in which he was asked to examine the eyes of 143 individuals to determine who among them had kidney problems. Not only did Jensen and two other proponents fair poorly statistically, they didn’t even agree amongst each other which patients suffered from kidney impairments. In fact repeatedly in similar tests iridologist have shown a success rate more consistent with random chance than a real diagnostic tool proving sometimes the eyes don’t have it.
Homeopathic treatments such as this can be tempting if you have a fear of hospitals or a flat wallet and no insurance, but the evidence shows you might be risking your health if you trust the Jensen chart over an MRI. You could be pouring good money after bad medicine and wasting precious time in getting a correct diagnosis of a serious aliment. There is no data confirming the claims of iridologist and plenty of reason for doubt. While having someone look deeply into your eyes sounds sort of romantic in this case, you’re better off with a blood test.