Iridology: A Natural Health 101 Article

What It Is

Iridology is the art of discovering weaknesses in the body through examination of the iris of the eye. Apparently based on an ancient Egyptian diagnostic method, modern iridology as we know it dates only to the mid-19th century. Today, practitioners photograph a client's eye then compare the photo to one of any number of iridology "charts", looking for signs of weakness in the body. They believe that the fibers and the pigmentation of the eye give clues to inherent weaknesses elsewhere. Practitioners often refer to iris photographs as "roadmaps to the body". But iridology is only a diagnostic tool--it's never a form of treatment.

What It Can Do for You

Iridology practitioners believe that careful, exhaustive examination of the eyeball can give valuable insight into a person's genetic makeup and his chances of developing diseases like cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure. Practitioners admit that they can't actually see the disease-they only see the inherent weakness that allows the disease to manifest. Practitioners will often follow up an iris examination by making corresponding recommendations about lifestyle changes. A few practitioners also go so far as to claim that iridology gives valuable clues to a person's emotional and mental well-being but most iridologists limit their practice to the identification of physical characteristics and natural weaknesses.

Finding a Qualified Practitioner

There is currently no federal agency overseeing the licensing or certification of iridologists and "diploma mill" credentials are common. If you're interested in receiving an iridology assessment, look for a practitioner who belongs to the International Iridology Practitioners Association, the largest iridology organization in the U.S. and the one with the most stringent educational requirements. Be extremely suspicious of a practitioner who follows an examination with a sales pitch for vitamins, herbal supplements or similar therapies.

What The Critics Say

Critics of iridology are quick to point to a lack of scientific evidence and well-publicized schisms within the iridology profession as proof that iridology amounts to little more than folklore. At best, they claim it's a worthless diagnostic tool--at worst, false "diagnoses" cause patients anxious moments while they wait for a physician to disprove the existence of a disease the patient never had in the first place.

My Opinion

My results with iridology have been mixed and I remain respectfully skeptical about its effectiveness. I would never recommend that a client rely solely on iridology to predict disease or diagnose an injury.

Lisa Barger is a traditionally trained naturopath specializing in illness prevention counseling. Ms. Barger holds certification in Ayurveda, Iridology, Homeopathy, Traditional Chinese Medicine and American Herbology. For more information about Ms. Barger's private practice or to take a free online natural health class please see our web site at

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