PIGMENT DEPOSITS IN THE IRIS: LIPOFUSCIN: THE ‘WEAR AND TEAR’ PIGMENT

Wednesday, April 29, 2009 | 3:35 am

This Fe-free pigment can appear in the iris in a range of colours varying from light yellow to black-brown. It is formed within the ganglion cells of the Nucleus niger and Locus ceruleus, and appears mostly as ‘wear and tear’ pigment in old age. However, it can also originate from protein metabolism without such regressive changes.

Lipofuscin (never melanin) is a constituent of the extra-pyramidal system. In the Zona reticularis of the suprarenal body, lipofuscin can be recognised microscopically as a dark brown colouring in conditions of old age. Although lipofuscin is described as a product of old age, it can also exist as a degeneration product in young people and as a sign of exhaustion of particular organs, hence the terms: liver-, renal- and pancreas-pigment.

At this point, I would like to include the group of rheumatic-gouty deposits. In my view, the duration of the condition can be assessed from the colour of the signs. The longer the disease has been present, the darker is the colour of the pigment.

Even though the above-mentioned pigments are topolabile, the presence of the flecks in the different zones of the iris can still be assigned to definite organ systems. If the light reddish pigment, as described in detail in the literature under the term—Nux vomica pigment, appears in the stomach and intestinal zone (first major zone), then it shows that a condition of fermentation affects these organs. If the discolouration extends outwards beyond the iris-wreath, then other organ systems can be affected.

The yellow to brown deposits which extend from the iris -wreath to the outer margin of the iris (Berberis pigment) indicate general disease of the body (Maubach: Reibekuchen-iris). In this case, the condition arises from a gouty disposition of hereditary origin. Indications of the acute phases of gout appear white, and generally lie next to dark signs in the bone area (fifth minor zone).

The pigments described as liver-, renal- and pancreas-pigment are likewise found in the ciliary zone.

Pigment deposits may appear in the iris if an organ is affected. However, since the differences of colour and localisation of pigment-flecks are insufficient for diagnosis, one must look for other signs in the organ areas of the iris in order to reach a definite opinion. Iridologists have been concerned with iris pigment-signs from the first beginnings of irisdiagnosis, commencing with Liljequist and continuing with Attila von Peczely, Schnabel and Angerer. In spite of their extensive works, there still remains a wide field for further research.

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