Iridology is the practice of examining the iris to better understand the health of the whole body. It is based on the idea that each organ in the body is represented by a specific area of the iris. Iridologists use simple tools, such a flashlights and magnifying glasses, to carefully study the eye.
Using an iris chart, they consider patterns, colours, and other characteristics of the iris to assess the health of the corresponding organs. They believe that the iris reveals inflammation or distress in the body, as well as a predisposition to or medical history of certain illnesses. A description of studying the eye to understand health appears in the 1665 medical text Chiromatia Medica, however it was a 19th century Hungarian doctor who first used the term “eye diagnosis,” now translated as iridology.
Its popularity spread to Germany in the early 20th century and the United States in the 1950s. Iridologists do not claim to diagnose and cure illnesses, but rather to identify weaknesses in the body. These underlying weaknesses can lead to illness, so treatment should improve health. Many of these weaknesses can be helped by common sense strategies, such as proper nutrition, detoxification, and physical activity.
Although scientific studies may not support its accuracy as a diagnostic tool, many who are treated by an iridologist report improvement in their overall health. It may be quite useful as a complementary therapy, in addition to regular medical care.