Analysis of iris isn't always infallible

Dr. T. David Williams, O.D. (Doctor of Optometry),M.S. (Masters of Science), PhD (Dr. of Philosophy).


Kitchener-Waterloo The Record

15 September 1998

I read with interest the Aug. 28 article, TheEyes Have It, on iris analysis.

I find the iris an endlessely fascinating structure.It is beautiful to look at the iris and watch its function, especiallyat high magnification and with suitable lighting.

Those with a knowledge of the embryonic formationof the iris will be aware that there are a number of disturbances whichcan occur in the formation of the body which can also cause characteristicappearances in the iris: for example, people who are born prematurely tneto have persistent blood vessels across portions of the pupil (these areof no practical consequence, by the way).

Other people who are born with Down's syndromehave characteristic white spots on the periphery of the iris.

From a standpoint of disease, there are numerouspossibilities for changes int the iris appearance, ranging from a darkeningof its colour with use of certain medications for glaucoma to a lighteningof its colour following inlfammation of the iris.

What concerns me about the article, however, isthe assertion it contains that the iris may be read like an infalliblemap which not only tells the exzaminer which organ is in difficulty, butalso which side of the body is affected.

Several studies have been carried out to investigatesuch claims, and the final verdict has been that such "iris analysis"does not work.

There is no question that the iris may provideuseful clues to systemic disease.

A prudent user of health-care services shouldbe aware, however, that "cookbook" methods of diagnosis are nota sensible alternative to more conventional (but more accurate) methodsof diagnosis.

T. David WilliamsO.D., M.S., Ph.D.Waterloo

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