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Ocular signs of the renal system.

Chronic kidney disease is a significant and growing public health problem in Australia, responsible for a substantial burden of illness and premature mortality.

* Approximately 1.7 million Australians may be affected by early-stage kidney disease and not know it (1)

* A person can lose up to 90% of their kidney function before experiencing any symptoms

* 1 in 3 adults are at increased risk of developing CKD

* 11.3% of all deaths in Australia are due to, or associated with, kidney failure

* Every day about 6 Australians commence expensive dialysis or transplantation to stay alive

* About 50% of all organs transplanted from deceased donors are kidneys

* Overall there has been a 23% increase in deaths from kidney disease over the past 10 years, killing more people each year than breast cancer (2,799) prostate cancer (3,111) or even road deaths (1,417) (2)

Many kidney issues are preventable. Iridology provides a noninvasive assessment of specific dispositions.

"Integrated Iridology" [R] is a system that embraces the physical, emotional and mental aspects of the individual based on the assessment of the iris, sclera and pupil. Clinical observation has established that all organs respond to specific emotions. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the primary emotional trigger for the kidneys is fear, so it is little wonder that we are now finding the kidneys are one of the most frequently marked areas in the iris. This discussion presents eye signs associated with urinary system dysfunctions according to the principles of Integrated Iridology.



The bladder reaction field lies medially in each iris adjacent to the uterus / prostate region. This is anatomically appropriate. Fibre density reveals the tone of the bladder and accumulations such as pigments in this area determine functional information.

Most iridology charts have the area medial to six o'clock representing the kidneys. You will notice that in the "Integrated Iridology" chart the kidney reaction zone encompasses this area plus a small area to the lateral side of six o'clock. The legs are positioned directly at six, with the hips toward the collarette and the feet at the ciliary border with the knees approximately mid- way. Any marking in the leg region should also be considered as a possible kidney sign. This is because the kidney meridian runs through both knees. It has been established that patella crepitus is an indication of reduced connective tissue and skeletal metabolites including GAGs (glycosaminoglycans) and calcium. (3) In my personal clinical observation, I have seen an increased incidence in renal issues in people working in occupations where there is undue knee stress such as carpet laying or floor tiling. This is in harmony with one of the fundamental principles in the philosophy of TCM, holding that everything that happens on the outside of the body in terms of damage or injury reflects an imbalance on the inside. In the case of knee difficulties, the knees represent the Kidney (they are associated with this organ, according to Five-Element theory). (4)


The knees carry the full weight of our body whenever we are upright. At the emotional level, stiffness or rigidity in the knees suggests reservation and stubbornness towards acceptance of new ideas or resistance toward moving forward. Perhaps there is a lack of flexibility. There may be a feeling that bending our knees means being on our knees in submission. Do we resist being flexible toward one of our parents?

There is a view among iridologists that the right knee represents issues with our father or some other significant male and the left knee represents issues with our mother or another significant female.

In addition to markings found in the kidney reflex area, there are many other iris markings that indicate the possibility of kidney issues. Let's consider the signs that tie us to predispositions influenced by our forebears. These signs can also indicate a "kidney personality" type.


Constitutional signs (Figure 2) are those that remain for the duration of our life. The colour and structure of your iris is genetic and is predominantly influenced by your parents and two sets of grandparents behind them. There is a link between colour accumulation and the metabolic effects of our major organs. European iridologists discovered that they could categorize people into distinct groups based on iris colour and structure. This assessment is known as Constitutional Iridology and it enables us to determine individual dispositions to disease.


When eyes appear green to the naked eye, close inspection reveals a blue iris with some yellow pigment overlay. The primary colour indicating renal issues is yellow. This eye colour determines the kidney lymphatic constitution. There may be structural signs in the kidney reaction field such as a lacuna or rarefaction (looser fibre density). The kidney type tends to have a low thirst response. This reduces urine output, thus increasing the likelihood of elevated uric acid levels. Faulty protein metabolism increases the risk of arthritis and rheumatism. The skin tends to be dry which in turn accelerates the ageing process.

Common symptoms: renal conditions including urinary tract infections and kidney stones are often part of the family history. Dehydration promotes the likelihood of constipation. Check bowel transit time and offer suggestions if necessary. Brown pigments, when present, are associated with liver involvement. It has been observed that people with green eyes are usually related to someone who has had kidney issues. Having this constitution predisposes them to similar conditions-especially if they have a comparable diet and lifestyle to their predecessors.

There are other constitutions that indicate a negative impact on the urinary system. They are hydrogenic (also called hydrogenoid) and hyper-acidic (also called the uric acid type)

The hydrogenic constitution (Figure 3) is identified by the presence of collagen bundles (lymphatic tophi) near the outer periphery of the iris. The colour of the tophi can vary from white, yellow, orange or brown--the darker colours indicating increased toxic encumbrance. The point of weakness for this type is the regulation of the fluid systems--both water and lymphatic, which have a tendency to become erratic. Cold damp conditions exacerbate a strong disposition to fluid retention and rheumatic symptoms. Age increases the predisposition to develop high blood pressure and diseases of the veins and urinary channels. Although they may complain of heavy perspiration, they are paradoxically troubled with fluid retention. The temperament is often grumpy and intolerant with minimal patience. Depression is common. This temperament can be due to potassium deficiency, caused by sodium and water retention in the interstitial spaces. Symptoms are exacerbated by increased body fat slowing down absorption in the lymph capillaries. Hydrogenic types are rarely symptom-free if they fail to exercise regularly. Dysbiosis is common.


The hyper-acidic constitution (Figure 4) appears icy blue to the naked eye. Tophi (if present) can be white or discoloured. This constitution is often found to have a scurf ring (dark periphery--see arrow). Skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis and pruritus (itching) are common. The hyper-acidic type should avoid constipation due to the negative impact this has on the liver. As with the kidney lymphatic constitution, a low thirst response results in a tendency to constipation and poor urine output. This exacerbates the likelihood of elevated uric acid levels which are already at work due to faulty protein metabolism. This increases the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, collagen diseases and kidney stone formation.



Dehydration is the most significant catalyst for the formation of kidney stones. A kidney stone occurs when substances in the urine form crystals. Renal colic is one of the most painful of human experiences.


Unfortunately, kidney stones are one of the most common disorders of the urinary tract. Approximately 10% of all males in Australia over the age of thirty are likely to have a kidney stone at some point in their lives. (1) Kidney stones have been recognized for thousands of years, but their frequency in the Western world has increased dramatically and continues to rise. The majority of kidney stones are comprised of calcium oxalate (Figure 5).



It is thought that kidney stones represent lumps of un-dissolved anger. The main emotional trigger for kidney dysfunction is fear. (5) Many kidney types, it is thought, fail to express their issues for fear of reprisal. Constant internal focusing on an unresolved issue can cause compression of a toxic experience that can ultimately manifests as a kidney stone. Just as water is the universal solvent physically, at the emotional level, we need to dilute toxic thoughts and experiences to avoid crystallizing them into something harmful. (6)


There are many structural and accumulative signs in the iris relating to the kidneys including lacunae, transversals, pigments and shading. Morphological variation regulates the influence of lacunae. For example:

Rarefaction (Figure 6) in the kidney reaction field indicates reduced circulation and function of the kidneys, modified by the shading (depth) within. The darker the shading is the greater the functional impairment is likely to be. Rarefaction in the kidney region shows a strong tendency to dehydration. This means there will be less dilution of hydrophilic metabolites and other waste material. Rarefaction is often associated with a low thirst reflex, dehydration, urinary frequency or urgency. The last two symptoms will be due to tonal impairment or sensitivity. This sign makes the kidneys a "nurture point". It is very important that this person be made conscious of the need to drink ample amounts of clear fluid. Water is the universal solvent. "The solution to pollution is dilution".


A double lacuna (Figure 7) is usually seen in major organ reaction fields. John Andrews, an iridology researcher and author in the UK, claims that up to 70% of clients with a double lacuna in the renal sector have medically confirmed polycystic kidneys. Because lacunae represent familial trends clients exhibiting this feature should be questioned about their family history and their personal symptoms. They identify specific "nurture points" for the individual.


A one sided lacuna (Figure 8) indicates organ insufficiency and the possibility of hypertrophy (increase of size) of the reflex tissue. They are more commonly found in the cardiopulmonary area of the iris. When located in the renal area, there is a suspicion of oedematous tendencies and inflammatory conditions. These could include persistent cystitis or urethritis.


The rhomboid lacuna (Figure 9) (diamond shaped) was identified by Josef Angerer as indicating a specific tendency to calcium loss and poor assimilation of Vitamin D. This increases the disposition toward osteoporosis. A pigment patch in a rhomboid lacuna indicates a strong tendency to osteomalacia. These risk factors can be minimized by ensuring exposure to at least fifteen minutes of sunlight daily. This provides adequate vitamin D production. Regular appropriate bone density tests should be recommended for susceptible individuals.


The shoe lacuna (Figure 10) is named after its shape, which looks just like a sole and heel. This topolabile sign is thought to be always related to kidney issues. For example, a shoe lacuna found in the cardiac reflex area greatly magnifies the likelihood of hypertension. (Consider the kidney-heart relationship). A shoe lacuna located in the head zone would likely be associated with headaches with a renal aetiology. This lacuna has been observed in all constitutions regardless of base colour. It is unique and held to be reliable in establishing a genetic link to a parent or grandparent who had kidney issues.


Stone drops (Figure 11) are a number of small crypts or substance defects in a row. They can be observed in any constitution but are more common in the kidney types. They represent a precursor to the mobilization of calcium phosphate from the bones. This can result in the formation of kidney stones (check reaction field). This sign can also indicate altered white blood cell production, thus affecting immune function and the production of white blood cells.


A Stone Path (Figure 12) is identified by two parallel brightened radials (like railway tracks). This is commonly seen in the renal sector of the iris. They increase the risk of renal calculi likely to be caused by penicillin which has been poorly metabolized by the kidneys. (7) Note the grey green colour of this eye. (Increased rheumatic risk) To date this patient has not developed any renal calculi but suffers with severe spinal pain.


Indentation of the collarette (Figure 13) towards the pupil in the kidney/adrenal area increases the likelihood that the kidneys are causing head symptoms. The most common symptom is headache. The most frequent influence will be to bring on dehydration. This is avoidable. If you observe this sign, pay special attention to water consumption.

Transversals run obliquely across the general direction of the iris structure. They direct our focus to a primary source of irritation. They can occur in any region and vary in colour from white to pink and occasionally to red. While many transversals can be inherent, they are thought to appear after significant trauma to the reflex area. Transversals are named according to shape and location. All transversals located in the kidney reflex area are referred to as "urinary transversals".


Urinary transversals (Figure 14) indicate various possibilities including scar tissue, adhesions, local stagnation and plethoric (congested) circulation. All transversals, regardless of their shape, indicate an increased risk of pathology - especially if they are pink. This may involve renal calculi due to mineral imbalance, high blood pressure due to fluid imbalance or more serious conditions. German iridology masters believe the presence of this transversal in the kidney area increases the risk of pathology in the uterus, prostate, kidneys or bladder. (8)


Angled transversals (Figure 15) show a predisposition to inflammatory conditions including arthritis and joint degeneration--especially of the knees and hips--likely due to poor calcium uptake.

Vascularised transversals (Figure 16) are either pink or red. Either of these colours is an indication of extreme aggravation, irritation, injury or congestion. Regardless of the area or shape, if the transversal is vascularised there is an urgent need for medical assessment as this usually indicates acute inflammatory conditions or a possible malignancy. When a vascularised transversal appears with no underlying pathology it can be inherent, but the reflex tissue should become a "primary nurture point". The picture is offered as an example of the colour change one sees when a transversal becomes vascularised. The shape indicates this as a tortuous vessel. Its location is in the right kidney. A sign such as this requires urgent medical investigation.


Aberrant fibres (Figure 17) are outstandingly brighter than the surrounding area, indicating increased sensitivity in the reaction field. If a brightened radial manifests in the kidney or bladder region, it often relates to irritability or reduced tone. White radials in the bladder section indicate a familial disposition to experiencing acute conditions including bladder and urinary tract infections. In the absence of symptoms, question the client about the family history. Aberrant fibres, once present remain as a permanent feature of the iris, even though the symptoms may have been treated successfully. This serves as a reminder of the person's historic disposition.


Contraction Furrows (Figure 18) indicate a number of possibilities. Classical iridology defines them as nerve rings, an indication of emotional frailty and increased anxiety. Note in this example there is rarefaction as well as contraction furrows. This will probably be linked at the physical level to a nervous bladder. Clinical observation has shown that many people with contraction furrows are highly motivated, action oriented characters. When contraction furrows are located in the kidney zone, the client is often a very restless sleeper who kicks off the bed linen while asleep. The influence on the renal system is increased if the contraction furrow is broken in the kidney or bladder reflex areas. This becomes a focal stress point as it can indicate tension, neural irritation or cellular insufficiency in this region.


A Scurf Ring (Figure 19) can indicate reduced integumentary function based on the degree of darkness. Integrated iridology refers to the skin as the third kidney due to its connection to the elimination of fluid. At the emotional level, it can indicate someone who has difficulty finding their purpose in life. Ask them whether they let things "get under their skin"? A thick scurf ring can indicate a person who is "thick skinned"--someone who is insensitive to outside opinion. The accompanying photo is of a hyper acidic constitution with a scurf ring.



According to TCM, the lungs and kidneys are connected energetically. (9) The kidneys react profoundly to the emotion of fear and the lungs react to grief, separation and anxiety about not being able to survive an issue. (5) It makes good sense to examine the structural makeup of the lungs whenever you notice kidney signs in the iris. Having a "kidney" iris sign in itself is by no means fatal!



In my clinical experience, I have observed that renal symptoms are usually activated after a person has experienced specific emotions. For example, the kidneys are vital organs that help maintain the balance of volume and pressure of body fluids. This gives us an understanding of the emotions that can be behind kidney issues. Has this client been out of balance emotionally? Perhaps they have felt unable to make decisions about their own needs. Do any of their relationships make them feel powerless? Do they think that life is unfair? Many "kidney" types put people up on a pedestal so to speak--only to be disillusioned when their high levels of expectation are unmet. This causes feelings of disappointment and distrust. While there may be a strong desire to help other people, there is often an inability to decide what's good for them. This can lead them to adopt a "victim mentality".


In the simplest form this is: shades of brown = liver influence; shades of yellow (10) = kidney influence; orange = pancreas influence

Straw Yellow pigment is also known as urosein and is the primary renal system colour. It is thought to be promoted by putrefaction, fermentation and decay exacerbated by insufficient consumption of acid free neutral liquids--especially water. (11) This pigment can be observed to develop gradually in children and young adults. This emphasises the importance of adequate hydration from birth! If this colour is confined to the humoral zone collarette it indicates a strong tendency to renal insufficiency, dysbiosis and periodic diarrhoea.

Heterochromia (Figure 20) means "other or different colour". A sectoral heterochromia is a block of colour confined to a specific area of the iris. The significance depends on the location and colour of the segment. If a heterochromia is observed on the kidneys or bladder reflex the colour should be examined to determine which other major organ is contributing a metabolic influence. In this photo sample there is a brown heterochromia sector, indicating liver influence.


Perifocal marks are marks adjacent to each other, e.g. a pigment next to lymphatic tophi. It is possible that adjacent iris signs can occur in the same reaction field. We call these perifocal markings since they increase the focus on this area. They warn of added complications including functional insufficiency and pathological potential or history. The sclera is also a barometer of kidney health. Both forms indicate renal weakness and a tendency to renal spasm and calculi. (2)

Glomeruli vessels (Figure 21) are so named due to the morphological likeness to renal glomeruli. There are two types within this group.

1. A looped form indicates capillary constriction causing decreased surface blood supply.

2. A spider leg form (as illustrated) suggests potential capillary blockage.


A spiral (Figure 22) vessel is distinguished by a loop form. It indicates reduced elasticity of the peripheral blood vessels resulting in decreased regulation over them. They are usually seen in connection with variable blood pressure which can vary from high to normal or normal to low. There may be a history of oedema. Encourage regular blood pressure monitoring and regulation to reduce a negative effect on renal function.



The negative effects of smoking on diabetic kidney disease are well documented. Diabetics who smoke tend to develop kidney disease earlier and lose kidney function more quickly than diabetics who do not smoke, or who quit smoking. (15) Smoking has also been shown to hasten the progression of other types of kidney disease. In addition, smoking increases high blood pressure and cardiovascular risks, two health problems that often occur in conjunction with kidney disease. Diabetes and hypertension increased the risk of developing kidney disease.

Keep Your Kidneys Healthy.

* Drink at least eight to ten glasses of clear fluid daily and more if you are exercising

* Balance protein meals with plenty of leafy vegetables to keep things moving

* Avoid heavy consumption of alcohol

* Moderate the amount of wet dairy products (especially milk) in the diet

* Don't smoke

* Engage in exercise that keeps the pelvic floor strong

* Try not to brood over things you can't change

* Adopt an attitude of gratitude

* Forgive those who hurt you

* Anger management can be helpful for some people


(1.) Fast Facts on CKD in Australia. [Internet]. Kidney Health Australia; (updated 2012 February 14). Available from

(2.) Leading Causes of Death, Australia, 2009.[Internet]. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics [updated 2012 May 3]. Available from

(3.) Jozsa LG, Kannus P. Human tendons: Anatomy, physiology, and pathology. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics; 1997.

(4.) Knee Injury. Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation [Internet]. Available from

(5.) What are the seven emotions? [Internet]. Available from;

(6.) Bourbeau, L. 2001. "Your Body's telling you love yourself"

(7.) Angerer, J. 1987. Textbook of Eye Diagnosis

(8.) Deck, J. 1965. Principles of Iris Diagnosis

(9.) Glutathione, the biochemical powerhouse. [Internet]. Available from

(10.) Miller, T. 2008. The Integrated Iridology Textbook

(11.) Hauser, Karl & Stotz. 2000. Information from Structure and Colour

Toni Miller ND, DHM, Integrated Iridologist, ATMS, IIPA, CCII
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Author:Miller, Toni
Publication:Journal of the Australian Traditional-Medicine Society
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Mar 1, 2012
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