This article is from the Alternative Medicine Therapies guide.
The basis of iridology is a holistic concept well accepted in other fields of alternative medicine, namely that when examined correctly, each part of the body contains information about other parts of the body. In chiropractic medicine, for example, misalignments in the spine are used to diagnose and treat diseases of the internal organs. In Chinese medicine, examinations of the pulse and tongue are regularly included in the diagnostic process. Iridolgists believe that as a degenerative disease slowly develops, the iris will reflect these changes.
Conventional physicians also routinely examine the eye for evidence of internal disease. Using an ophthalmoscope to look at the retina of the eye, a doctor can see how diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure are affecting blood vessels. Likewise, a close examination of the iris can give information about high cholesterol and certain metabolic ailments.
Iridologists contend that conventional physicians woefully underutilize the iris as a source of information about an individual's health status. They point out that the iris itself is one of the most complex organs in the human body. When a photograph of the iris is enlarged, iridologists claim they can get a view of an ultrafine membrane of connective tissue that shows signs of degenerative diseases well before their presence is manifested in larger organs.
Over the years, many iridology texts have "mapped" segments of the iris to correspond with various internal organs. While this concept is accepted by most American-trained iridologists, it continues to be debated among European practitioners. Although the European iridologists believe that analysis of the eye can indicate a propensity for disease, they point to the lack of evidence for any anatomical correspondence between sections of the iris and specific body parts.
Most American-trained iridologists, however, continue to maintain that the iris is connected to the brain and acts as a control panel, giving readouts on conditions in the various parts of the body. Because thousands of nerve endings make up the iris, they contend, the eye can indeed provide a system of connections to the rest of the body.