The so-called science of iridology was started in the nineteenth century by a Hungarian doctor called Ignatz Von Peczley who found and nursed an injured owl which had a broken leg. Peczley noticed that the owl had a mark on its eye which disappeared as its leg got better.

On the basis of this single, chance observation, the Hungarian then founded what is now a flourishing branch of alternative medicine. Poets may claim that they can see into your soul by looking into your eyes. Iridologists claim that they can use your eyes to help them check out your body.

Using a torch and a magnifying glass, a special microscope or even a camera, iridologists will examine their patients’ eyes searching for unusual markings. The iris of each patient’s eye is divided into twelve sections – each being related to between five and ten specific parts of your body. According to the markings and colourings that they find iridologists will claim they can tell what is wrong with patients.


The iridologist examines the patient’s eye, maybe even taking photographs of it. With the information he or she has thus obtained he then makes a diagnosis.


Iridologists don’t offer treatment unless they practise some other therapy. Iridology is purely a diagnostic skill. Occasionally, an iridologist will pass all his patients on to other practitioners – in just the same way as a radiologist will send his patients back to their clinician. More commonly, however, iridologists offer treatment with herbs, acupuncture or some other selected therapy.


I know of no specific hazards associated with iridology although I believe there is a danger that patients who rely on iridology for a diagnosis may be told that there is nothing wrong with them when they are, in fact, suffering from a serious and possibly treatable disorder.


Iridology is one of the few ‘alternative’ forms of diagnosis. It is, therefore, quite commonly practised by therapists who have no other way of convincing their patients that they know how to make a diagnosis. However, I do not recommend iridology.