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PIA Press Release
2008/08/04

DOH cautions public vs iridology

Quezon City (4 August) -- The Department of Health (DOH) today strongly advised the public against iridology because it is neither a diagnostic tool nor a therapeutic modality in alternative medicine.

There is no scientific validation for the use of iridology and it does not have a strong evidence of having value either for diagnosis or treatment of diseases," Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque stressed.

The health chief added that iridologists claimed to be able to diagnose the existence of a wide variety of diseases in the organs of the body. These diagnoses are made either by directly examining the person's iris or by using photographs.

After examination, patients are encouraged to buy alleged herbal remedies peddled by iridologist to prevent a problem from starting or reduce an existing problem. These herbal remedies may have an adverse effect on the health of someone who does not need them.

Duque noted that harm could occur if iridology is used in place of effective diagnostic tools. This will be a case of someone with an actual illness being given information based on nothing but intuition. Or worse, people with serious illness maybe told that they do not have any illness, which could delay effective treatment.

Meanwhile, in observance of Sight Saving Month, Duque urged all concerned agencies to focus on the World Health Organization's (WHO) goal of reducing the prevalence of blindness in the country to 0.5% before 2020.

Presently, the prevalence of blindness in the country stands at 0.58% of the total population, or about 500,000. Of the total number, 62% are caused by cataract, error of refraction (10.3%), glaucoma (18%), retinopathy (4%), maculopathy (4%) and corneal opacities (3.4%).

Recently, childhood blindness is becoming a concern. Although the prevalence rate of childhood blindness is only one tenth with that of blindness in the general population, its socio-economic impact is severe and the country has no accurate data on childhood blindness.

Globally, there are about 1.4 to 1.5 million blind children, of whom 1.05 million are seen in underdeveloped countries. Locally, there is an estimated 37,200 children less than 14 years who are blind. Approximately, 40% of these are avoidable blindness and the main causes of pediatric visual impairment are error of refraction (33.9%), cataract (16.1%) and phthisis bulbi (12.5%).

To address childhood blindness in the country, it is recommended that a mandatory vision screening be implemented in all pre-schoolers prior to entry. (PIA) [top]

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