Insights on health from the iris
The experimental science of iridology is based on the concept that the coloured part of the eye – the iris – reflects the functional state of organ systems inside the body.

Iridologists have developed complex maps dividing the iris into 80 -90 zones. Many of those trained in the full art of iridological assessment use greatly enlarged photographic images of the iris to allow greater examination of marks and fibre quality. They suggest that these markings can give an insight into the individual’s inherited constitutional type with its associated strengths and weaknesses, and also an opportunity to become aware at an early stage of functional disturbances that may not yet be showing as disease. Once diagnosed the client is encouraged to apply lifestyle changes and natural remedies if necessary in an effort to “walk back out” of the dysfunction that is identified as being likely to lead to established medical conditions.

For the scientific mind there are many loose ends in the theory and it may be tempting to dismiss it. I have no personal experience of the validity or otherwise of full iridological assessments, but my own experience with simple iridological observation of constitutional type, digestive system status and major markings fully supports its value in supporting and enriching a careful case history. In my experience a simple iridological assessment is particularly helpful for differentiating between states of under or overproduction of stomach acid which can produce the same symptom of acid reflux, but need entirely different treatments.

Background information
The eyes and surrounding skin are well recognised indicators of health and vitality – we are all aware of recognising someone’s state of tiredness through looking at their eyes. The Chinese tradition takes the size, set and shape of the eyes into account in its health assessment techniques, and Ayurvedic tradition consider eye colour to be part of a person’s constitution. Modern iridology is thought to have begun in Hungary in the late 1800’s and has developed into a complex diagnostic system in several countries since. The American Tradition evolved in early 1900’s amongst naturopaths, doctors, osteopaths and herbalists. The best known names in this tradition are the famous natural medicine practitioners Henry Lindlahr, Bernard Jensen and John Christopher who all used and developed iridology as a diagnostic aid to direct and monitor the progress of naturopathic treatment.

In recent years it has attracted much scepticism amongst mainstream doctors and several trials have failed to support it’s ability to diagnose established conditions. However, iridologists combat these poor results with the argument that the what imprints in the iris structure is not so much signs of organ damage as the functional states of tissues that inform us of the predisposition to disease. Present day iridologist Peter Jackson-Main writes in his accessible book “Practical Iridology” that “the stroma of the iris contains approximately 28,000 “blind” nerve endings. These nerves can be traced back to an area in the thalamus known as the lateral genicular body. It is possible that here there are connections to all the organs and systems of the body. Medical science has not yet offered an explanation for this phenomenon. One theory suggests that this circuit could form the basis of an internal feedback system.”

Judy Patterson holds a diploma in iridology from the Laurence Plaskett International College (2005), taken as an adjunt to her Nutritional Medicine training.