Scientific research into iridology
Scientific research into iridology has shown mostly, but not entirely, negative results.
In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Simon et al.4, 1979), three well qualified iridologists incorrectly identified kidney disease in photographs of irises and often disagreed with each other. The researchers concluded: "iridology was neither selective nor specific, and the likelihood of correct detection was statistically no better than chance." Iridologists defended themselves by stating that they needed live examinations and that their approach was valid for predictions of health, not of disease tags once the disease was developed and even complicated. However the three iridologists concerned did not state that before the study took place.
Another study was published in the British Medical Journal (Knipschild5, 1988). Paul Knipschild MD, of the University of Limburg in Maastricht, selected 39 patients who were due to have their gall bladder removed the following day, because of suspected gallstones. He also selected a group of people who did not have diseased gall bladders to act as a control. A group of 5 iridologists examined a series of slides of both groups irises. The iridologists were not able to identify correctly which patients has gall bladder problems and which had healthy gall bladders. For example one of iridologists diagnosed 49% of the patients with gall stones as having them and 51% as not having them. He diagnosed 51% of the control group as having gall bladder problems and 49% as not. Dr Knipschild concluded: "this study showed that iridology is not a useful diagnostic aid." Iridologists defended themselves with the same considerations as above, but also attacked the methodology of the study.
Ernst1, 2000, said: "Does iridology work? [...] This search strategy resulted in 77 publications on the subject of iridology. [...] All of the uncontrolled studies and several of the unmasked experiments suggested that iridology was a valid diagnostic tool. Such investigations are wide open to bias. The discussion that follows refers to the 4 controlled, masked evaluations of the diagnostic validity of iridology. [...] In conclusion, few controlled studies with masked evaluation of diagnostic validity have been published. None have found any benefit from iridology. As iridology has the potential for causing personal and economic harm, patients and therapists should be discouraged from using it."
Demea6, 2002, showed more positive results for iridology: "The research proposal is to evaluate the association between certain irian signs and general pathology of studied patients. [...] There were studied 57 hospitalized patients [...] The correlations resulted from, shows a high connection between the irian constitution establish[ed] through iridological criteria and the existent pathology. [...] Iris examination can be very useful for diagnosis of a certain general pathology, in a holistic approach of the patient." (translated)
- Ernst E. Iridology: not useful and potentially harmful. Arch. Ophthalmol. 2000 Jan;118(1):120-1 PubMed ID: 10636425 Abstract
- Waniek, D.A., Medical Hypotheses 1987;23(1): 309-312 PubMed ID 3614020
- Popescu, M.P.; Waniek D.A., Rev Chir Oncol Radiol O R L Oftalmol Stomatol Ser Oftalmol 1986;30(1): 29-33 PubMed ID 2940632 (in Romanian)
- Simon A., Worthen D.M., Mitas JA 2nd. An evaluation of iridology. JAMA. 1979 Sep 8;242(13):1385-9. PubMed ID: 480560 Abstract
- Knipschild P. Looking for gall bladder disease in the patient's iris. BMJ. 1988 Dec 17;297(6663):1578-81. PubMed ID: 3147081 Abstract
- Demea S. [Correlation between iridology and general pathology] Oftalmologia. 2002;55(4):64-9. (in Romanian.) PubMed ID: 12723182 Abstract
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