Birth of Iridology


Iridology, or the study of the iris, goes back for several centuries. Written records and silver plates that date back to Egypt and are kept in the Vatican’s library and Harvard University are the first known educational materials on iridology. The Egyptian priests at the time had an extraordinary knowledge of medicine.

In 1922, G. Carter discovered pictures of the iris on these silver plates when he explored Tutankhamen’s tomb (1400-1392 B.C.). El Ax, the pharaoh’s priest, was an ancient iridologist who popularized the art. Thanks to his work, diagnosis of the eye spread from Egypt to Babylon, Tibet, China and other regions (E. Velkhover).

More than 300 diseases, diagnostic methods, treatment and prophylactics can be found. One of the factors that prove the ancient Egyptian’s intense interest in the structure of the iris is the statues of pharaohs and priests in the Cairo national museum. Their eyes are composed of very precise color mosaics and it is impossible to find two similar eyes from one statue to the other.

Aristotle, Hyppocratus, and Heraclitus have also made interesting observations regarding the iris.

Other examples of iridology at work can be found in the notes of the Alexander the Great’s doctor. Warriors were selected by taking into consideration the state of their irises. The founder of one of the most enlightened dynasties of Hellenistic Egypt (305-300 B.C.) Ptholemeus, military leader of Alexander the Great, and his associates kept this knowledge alive and possibly transferred it to Ancient Rome after Egypt was conquered.

In Tibetan medicine, special attention was paid to the patient’s physical appearance. The condition of the skin, tongue, eyes, muscle movements and so on was accessed with great care. The eyes in particular gave information about many problems appearing in the organism. A dullness in the iris meant intense suffering for the patient.

The leading Tibetan doctors who carried the honorable title of “pundit,” particularly noted the liver and its “screen”—the eyes (the literal translation for eyes is “liver flower”). They reached conclusions on the definitive injuries to the internal organs by investigating changes in the iris and pupil. They viewed these pupil areas as windows to the body depth. Abnormalities in the sclera and irregularities in the lower part of the pupil were regarded as a blood disease symptoms, while the sclera and irregularities in the right part of the pupil were regarded as liver disease symptoms. The eyeball was often called the body wick which could show the state of human health: the clean eye corresponded to a healthy condition at the same time that a murky eye corresponded to a sick person (E. Velkhover)

In the Middle Ages, the naturalist “Father of Anatomy,” A. Vesalius (1514-1564) described in detail the iris of a dying man in his classic handbook about human body structure. Also, the Paracelsus, Fillip Teophrast (1493-1541), founder of iatrochemistry (the science of pharmaceuticals), philosopher and alchemist left many descriptions of patients’ irises.

Teophrast regretted that it was then impossible to make more detailed investigations of its structure. This lack of optical devices prohibited detailed studies of the iris structure and peculiarities of its color palette, but the discovery of microscope made by Antuan von Levenguk (1632-1723) had a great influence on the level of iridological examinations.

In 1670 the physicist Filipp Meyens used a magnifying glass for his research. He had published a book, which contained diagnostics on both eyes and eyebrows in which he divided the eye with two perpendicular lines on four sectors. Each part contained projections of several internal organs.

The first valid description in Europe of the brain and lungs was said to be made by Dr. Mac Leiden from Holland and the first manual on iridology was issued in the oldest European university in Portu (Portugal) in 1790.

The dissertation “De Ocolo Et Signo” (“Eyes And Signs”) was defended in Hettingen University in 1786. In 1813 the Viennese doctor Y. Beer mentioned somato-iridological links in organisms in his book about eye diseases. It is clear from his work that he was not aware of ancient iridology and came to his conclusions on his own.

The ancient and Middle Age sciences dealt mostly with changes of color and general eye structure. There were no basis of the method and irido-pupillary signs systematization and essentially the ability of topological investigation was not taken into consideration.

A medical doctor named Ignatz von Peczely (1826-1907) from Egernar, near Budapest, Hungary proved the basis of the iridological method and proposed his own iris zones projection chart. Although rather primitive from a modern point of view, it is still relatively reliable.

Ignatz von Peczely (1826-1907)

While studying at a Viennese university and working in a surgical hospital, Peczely began to investigate his patients’ iris changes depending on various diseases they had. He found that each part of the body as well as each organ corresponds to a determined iris segment. This resulted in his development of the first iris chart which made him a founder of modern iridology. In 1880 Peczely published a book describing diagnostic principles for the iris. The main focus of his work was the location and form of iridological signs. Later he published a manual on iris diagnostics where he wrote as an epigraph that eyes are not only the mirror of the soul but also of the body. Unfortunately, his work was met by the icy silence of his contemporaries.

Swedish pastor Nils Liljequist added another important page to iridological history. “A man can lie but his eyes never lie” was his answer to those who were curious about his interest in iridology. He developed a more detailed and reliable iridology chart independently from Peczely, determining the position of the digestive tract in the ciliary belt and proving that organic defects should be visible in the eyes. The color iris analysis that was first described in his fundamental book on eye diagnosis (1897) extended the ability to find toxic and toxic-allergic changes in the organism. The pastor was one of the first who warned that random vaccination and large doses of drugs can eventually cause many allergic diseases.

In the early 20th century, the Europeans’ contemporary Henry Lindlahr, , founder of natural therapy in Chicago, described several principles of iridodiagnostics and natural therapy in his book on iridology .

There are many other famous people who should also mentioned in the founding of modern iridology: Emmanuel Felke, Emil Schlegel, Peter Thiel, Magdalene Madaus and Henrich Hense (Emmanuel Felke’s followers), Karl Baumhauer, Rudolf Schnabel (received later in 1959 London Academy of Sciences prize for the publishing of a double volume on iridology), as well as Alfred Maubach (Emmanuel Felke’s and Emil Schlegel’s student).

The names Heinrich Hense and Rudolf Schnabel are connected with the use of the objective methods in iridology that was started in the 20th century. For the first time Henrich Hense had included photographs of the iris in his manual and Rudolf Schnabel began to use microscope instead of a magnifying glass.

A journal was established by Magdalene Madaus in 1920 journal. It was called Iriscorrespondens and helped to increase the abilities of iris diagnostic practitioners at that time.

Several papers on iridology were published at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. Most of them were the research of single investigators. Sometimes they were not reliable and had no connection to medicine. The problems of clinical approval at that time had to do with the poor technical level of equipment and the lack of mutual efforts of laboratories, hospitals and universities, which often led to false conclusions from even conscientious scientists. The contradictory results and projection interpretations and sometimes personal antagonism among scientists led to decreasing trust of iridology in its followers as well.

The evolution of iridological practice in recent history took place mainly in national schools which led at the beginning to some disagreements but further allowed the creation of a matched system of projection zones and classifying signs by combining different charts.

Bernard Jensen (United States), Josef Deck (Germany), Rene Bourdiol (France), Petyr Dimkov (Bulgaria) and Evgeny Velkhover (Russia) are by rights regarded as founders of the national schools.

Bernard Jensen (1908-2001) is one of the most outstanding people in modern iridology. Dr. Jensen was a naturopath, nutritionist, chiropractor, philosopher and author of wide- spread world fame for his manual on iridology. His book, The Science and Practice of Iridology details a method that allows a practitioner to determine a patient’s condition without interception in functioning organs. One of the main advantages of iridodiagnostics is that signs of constitutional peculiarities, genetic defects and structural damages in the organism appear on the iris significantly earlier than a real dysfunction or pathology appears, so it is possible to make an early diagnosis.

For sixty years, Dr. Jensen investigated more than 350,000 patients. The iris charts that he developed are some of the most widespread in the world. His approach to the iris structure, its density, amortization, pigment and other properties is original and confirmed by clinical practice. His theory on the rules of iridogenetic inheritance and the signs forming in the iris is the basis of modern iridological prognosis.

It should be also mentioned that Jensen made an inestimable contribution to the unification of iridologists all over the world when he has established Iridologists International in 1977.

Josef Deck (Germany) spent more than 40 years creating fundamental iridology works. His two manuals The Fundamentals Of Iridodagnostics (1965) and Differential Iridodagnostics (1980) were the result of morphological, genetic and clinical investigations of the iris. He established the Institute Of Fundamental Investigations in Ettlingen, Germany, which was one of the leading educational and research iridology centers of Europe. The classification of constitutional types that was developed by Deck allows for estimation of compensating abilities of an organism and predisposition to particular diseases, although it should be mentioned that his work is somewhat limited because all investigations made by Deck were conducted in the Western and Northern parts of Germany where most of the people have light and low pigment saturated brown irises. The investigations made in various regions of Southeast Asia where most of people have high pigment saturated brown irises prove that Deck’s classification does not take into consideration such peculiarities.

Rene Bourdiol, who espoused embryonic iris projection, is one of the most important representatives of the French iridology school. This topoembryonic point of view (not widespread in the world, but Jausas and some representatives of the Spanish and Portugese schools use it) is significant, for his contribution included the teaching of pigments, iris relief, ethics and deontology in iridology.

Petyr Dimkov (1886-1979) of Bulgaria was one of the practitioners of the Trakian therapy system. An expert in folk medicine all of his life, he followed the Hippocratic principle of treating patients rather than the disease by his philosophy of find the reason for the disease reason rather than the symptoms. He saw the iris as a dynamic screen of organ processes and the possibility of the manifestation of the system in the iris when pathology involved close organs. His books Eye Diagnostics (1977) and the three-volume Natural Medicine And Life On The Laws Of Nature issued after his death in 1991 are excellent manuals for the healing art practitioner.

Then, Petyr Dimkov’s follower, Dr. Kaiadjiev from Plovdiv, Bulgaria grounded the unity of the “In-Jan” doctrine and iridosomatic connections.

E. Velkhover, the Russian neuropathologist and professor of medicine, is one of the first who understood the subjectivity and limitations of iridological investigations. The irido-clinical methods he and his followers developed helped to combine both traditional and modern medicine. In 1977, he established the People’s Friendship University and a laboratory headed by Professor Velkhover continuously worked with large clinics and scientific-research medical and sports centers. This allowed him to make complex and large-scale investigations using modern medical research methods. Basically, his investigation included digestive system pathologies and pathologies of the central and peripheral nervous system, the kidneys and the heart, as well as irido-somatic connections, iridogenetics, iridopsychology and iridochromotherapy. The results of his work, recognized in many countries all over the world, included projections of organs for stomach, duodenum and liver pathologies, portal hypertension, and spinal column diseases. Twelve of his monographs were published and among them was Clinical Iridology (1990), one of the important thematic manuals in the world. The education center headed by Velkhover has prepared more than 2000 doctors of iridology who work in 25 countries around the world.

Modern iridology is tightly connected with the development of television and computer technologies. From the beginning of 1980s, iris image grabbing and computer processing were developed in Russia, the United States, Italy, Czechoslovakia, and Ukraine. Comparing different analogs, most experts prefer the Russian iridology software and its equipment, namely the Bexel Irina system of STC (Suttong) Corporation.

From the beginning of the 20th century there have been efforts to consolidate iridologists. The special journals Iriscorrespondent, (Madaus), International iridologist, (Jensen), and Iridodiagnosis (Velkhover), helped in the dissemination of information toward this end.

Also, Iridologia a naturopatia, (Giuriati,) and others also assisted in the development for scientific attempt consolidation. The International Congresses in Czechoslovakia (1980) and Monaco (1985) coordinated the work and determined directions for future investigations. Beginning in 1992, annual International Symposia are held in Dorimo, Italy and Salonics, Greece. In analyzing the state-of-the-art in iridoreflexology, it is necessary to mention the increase of technical support and number of developments. Now, more than ever, high quality frame grabbers and software image analysis now makes it possible to accumulate data, interpret images and analyze the results.

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