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Iridologist: Educational Requirements for a Career in Iridology

Oct 03, 2019

Iridology is not a legally recognized field, but similar occupations require a significant amount of formal training. Learn about the education, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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An iridologist uses a form of alternative or naturopathic treatment that is focused on finding potential health problems by looking at a person's iris. They attempt to detect diseases by examining aspects of the iris, such as its color and pattern. These holistic professionals, when practicing as a naturopathic doctor, require a doctoral or professional degree and state licensure.

Essential Information

Iridologists focus on studying the iris in order to access a patient's overall health. Holistic assessments are given by these medical professionals, helping them learn more about patients' health, family history and specific ailments. This health field is not legally defined or regulated, which means there are no regulated courses. However, students entering this field must be familiar with certain principles in order to practice, which can be learned in physiology, consultation practices and iridology theory courses. Prospective iridologists may instead pursue work as naturopathic doctors.

Required Education Doctoral or professional degree for naturopathic doctors
Other Requirements Licensure required
Job Growth (2018-28)* 7% for all physicians and surgeons
Median Salary (2019)** $72,009 for naturopathic doctors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Job Description of an Iridologist

Iridologists are alternative medical practitioners who use close examination of the iris to identify potential health concerns. Iridology is not legally defined or regulated within the United States like other healthcare professions; nevertheless, some natural medicine practitioners consider it valid. Iridologists study the eye in attempt to diagnose or identify specific diseases. Ostensibly, they practice by observing coloring, patterns and changes within the iris. They might also consult iridology maps that indicate which sections of the iris correspond to certain parts of the body.

Iridologists might also assess the overall state of one's health. According to the International Iridology Practitioners Association, iridology can help people understand their personal health in relation to their family history, environment and specific ailments; an iridologist gives people an overall holistic assessment of their physiological conditions (www.iridologyassn.org). An iridologist might advise her patients to take herbs or other supplements as part of natural treatment.

Medical and Scientific Viewpoints

Proof remains elusive that iridology assists in such assessments. Scientific case-controlled studies regarding iridologists' abilities to determine whether individuals had kidney disease, gall bladder disease, cancer, asthma and other afflictions were published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association and the Archives of Ophthalmology. All found a lack of efficacy in the practice: professional iridologists' abilities to identify medical problems were the same as what would be expected if guessing correctly by chance. Furthermore, studies have questioned the safety of the practice: an iridologist might incorrectly diagnose patients with disorders or may reassure them that they're healthy when in fact they are not.

Education Required

Because the field is unregulated by the government and medical community, there is no regulated body of coursework required to become an iridologist. However, prospective iridologists must become familiar with certain principles to successfully practice the discipline according to iridology standards. Course topics include eye anatomy and physiology, iridology theory, business basics and consultation practices; these may be taken using books, audio format and/or live classes. Iridology institutes and programs can be found worldwide, although accreditation can be complicated.

Because iridology is unsanctioned by mainstream medical science, many practitioners combine their training with other natural or homeopathic specialties, often working as naturopathic doctors. According to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (www.naturopathic.org), in certain states, one can become a licensed naturopathic physician and offer patient services by completing a 4-year naturopathic medical school and an additional 4-year training program in specialty subjects. To work as a physician and provide patient care, one must pass the NPLEX, or the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to Payscale.com, the median annual salary for naturopathic physicians is $72,009 as of September 2019. The employment opportunities for physicians and surgeons are expected to grow faster than average from 2018-2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Iridologists diagnose physical conditions by looking at the irises of their patients and may recommend a course of natural treatment involving supplements and herbs. It should be noted that iridology is unregulated by the government and unsanctioned by traditional medical scientists. For this reason, an iridologist often becomes a licensed naturopathic physician, which calls for at least eight years of training and passing a licensing exam.

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