Prospective iridology practitioners can pursue certificates in iridology studies, which are offered through alternative health schools. Iridology studies certificate programs are often available online. Unlike modern medical practitioners, iridologists are not licensed or evaluated by any governmental agency.
Doctoral optometry programs consist of lecture-based courses and extensive clinical rotations; graduates are prepared to take the professional optometrist licensure exam.
Another route for students interested in vision science is to earn a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree and move on to an ophthalmology residencies. M.D. programs take four years to complete. Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree with healthcare, math and science prerequisites. After earning an M.D., aspiring ophthalmologists can pursue 3-year residencies in the discipline that focus on clinical skills and surgical techniques.
A GED or high school diploma is required for admission to certificate programs, while doctoral optometry programs are open to students who have completed a bachelor's degree and submitted Optometry Admission Test (OAT) scores along with a full application. Residency programs are for licensed medical doctors. Online classes and distance learning programs are often available at the certificate level.
Certificate in Iridology Studies
Many schools that offer certificate programs in iridology do not have accreditation. In iridology certificate programs, students learn how to assess patients' health by studying the shape, pattern and color of the iris. The curriculum may also cover equipment and tools used in iridology practice. Certificate programs are usually offered in a CD, DVD or online format with hands-on assignments. The program may be self-paced.
Students in iridology programs explore iridology history and theory and gain practical knowledge. The following are common classes in an iridology certificate program.
- Iridology overview
- Iridology theory and practice
- Anatomy and physiology
- Iris analysis techniques
Doctor of Optometry
The Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) program offers a 4-year curriculum that teaches students how to perform eye examinations and diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders that affect vision. Students learn clinical, practical and theoretical approaches to vision science. Optometry students receive extensive clinical training by completing rounds under faculty supervision at on-campus clinics or by participating in optometry externships.
The first three years of the program are mostly dedicated to classroom study and labs, while the final year focuses on clinical rounds. The following are typical classes in an O.D. program.
- Neuroanatomy and eye anatomy and physiology
- Clinical optometry
- Ocular disease and pathology
- Pediatric and geriatric optometry
- Contact lenses and optics
- Visual therapy
Residency in Ophthalmology
Ophthalmology residencies are 3-year programs that teach basic medical and surgical ophthalmology and related specialties. Residents complete rotations at several different hospitals. First year residents receive experience with patients in clinical settings. Second year residents focus on gaining clinical experience in subspecialties and may also supervise first year residents. During the third year, residents become chief surgical residents and spend the year performing surgical procedures with the attending surgeon. Residents also participate in medical student teaching.
Residents receive most of their education through hands-on experience in clinical practice and surgery. Ophthalmologic residents receive training in the following areas:
- Pediatric ophthalmology and neuro-ophthalmology
- External and corneal diseases
- Glaucoma and cataracts
- Ophthalmic pathology
- Intraocular inflammation
- Clinical optics
Career Outlook and Salary Info
Job opportunities for physicians and surgeons are expected to increase 14%, faster than average, from 2014 to 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ophthalmologists are included in this category. The mean yearly salary for physicians and surgeons was $197,700 as of May 2015, the BLS reported.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 27% growth in employment of optometrists between 2014 and 2024, a rate much faster than the average for all occupations. Job growth is due to the aging population and the growing number of insurance policies that include vision. Salaried optometrists earned a median annual salary of $103,900 as of May 2015.
Professional Certification and Continuing Education
The International Iridology Practitioners Association (IIPA) offers the Certified Comprehensive Iridologist designation. Iridology practitioners must become IIPA members, have a transcript from an IIPA-approved program and successfully complete an examination to receive this certification. Continuing education courses are available online through IIPA affiliates.
The National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) administers the national certification exam required for all O.D. graduates. The national board exam consists of three parts that cover basic science, clinical knowledge, and patient assessment and management. Professional organizations, including the American Optometric Association, offer professional development and continuing education opportunities to help optometrists stay current on new developments in the field.
Ophthalmologists must stay on top of new developments and surgical techniques. Professional organizations such as the American Academy of Ophthalmology offer a variety of educational resources. Attendance at annual meetings and conferences in ophthalmology are critical to the continuing education process.
Popular Career Options
Graduates of iridology programs usually combine their newly acquired knowledge with additional alternative health practices. Careers that complement iridology include:
- Homeopathy technician
- Natural medicine technician
- Holistic health practitioner
Those interested in iridology can look into certificate programs that study the iris and its possible implications to overall health. Many of these programs are unaccredited, but students can also pursue doctoral programs in optometry and residency programs in ophthalmology that may provide more gateways into the field of eye care. Optometrical job growth is expected to be very healthy over the next decade.