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Tuesday, 21 July, 1998, 11:52 GMT 12:52 UK
Look this way, please

It has long been said that the real way to find out what someone thinks is to look into their eyes.

But some specialists believe that staring at the iris - the coloured part of the eye - can tell a whole lot more.

Iridologists believe that tell tale signs in the iris can reveal health problems in the rest of the body.

They use a map of the eye drawn up in the 19th Century to make their diagnoses.

Owl observation

The map was drawn up by a Hungarian scientist who noticed a brown mark on the iris of an owl with a broken leg. He subsequently noted the same mark in a human with the same condition.

Treatments are based on natural, herbal remedies.

Iridologist Dr N Succar, a trained medical doctor, said: " We can tell many things. It is a method of diagnosis, it is quick, non-invasive and without any pain.

"We can say whether somebody has high cholesterol, the condition of the colon, the condition of the nervous system, whether somebody has stress and to what extent, chronic or recent.

"It can be an inherited weakness or it can be something happening."

Very sceptical

Rosemary Leonard
Dr Leonard: Very sceptical
However Dr Rosemary Leonard, a GP, was very sceptical about the claims.

She said: "There are no doubt certain medical conditions which you can diagnose by looking in the eye. High cholesterol is a classic one, anaemia is another. You could also maybe tell if someone has got an underactive thyroid gland.

"But to start diagnosing someone's colonic or digestive function - apart from jaundice - in their eyes is very far fetched.

Dr Leonard said there was no scientific basis for the claims of iridology. In one research study iridologists were given pictures of the eyes of patients with a diagnosed gall bladder condition to make their own diagnosis.

"They did not get it right any more than by chance," Dr Leonard said.

"This particular thing could be very alarmist, and it could give inaccurate diagnosis."

Not trained

Dr Leonard warned that most iridologists were not medically trained and were diagnosing potentially serious conditions.

"If people want to see an iridologist fine, but if it is suggested that you have got some type of disorder please, please go and see your own GP and have some more conventional tests done to check it out."

Before becoming an iridologist, Dr Succar had been very sceptical about the practice.

"With every patient I see it confirms a lot of things.

"Research has been done in the US for 20 years and in some states it is on the national health service."

Dr Succar added that patients were always referred on to a GP if a problem was diagnosed which required further testing.

"I emphasise that your GP will help you in their way, and I will help you in my way with natural remedies."

See also:

08 Jun 98 | Medical notes
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