University of Oxford researchers have discovered that sleepiness is controlled by nerves in the eye. By turning off certain cells in the eyes of mice, the effects of light on sleep and alertness is completely abolished.
"If we can mimic the effect of light pharmacologically, we could turn sleep on and off," lead researcher Russell Foster, of the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology, said.
This discovery could help in the development of a new and better type of sleeping pill.
This reminds me of the alternative medicine technique known as iridology. According to the Centre for Health Living, iridology is the science and practice that reveals health conditions, where these conditions exist in the body using the information contained in the iris of the eye. This is another technique, like acupuncture, passed down from ancient China.
However, it was a Hungarian, Dr. Ignaz Von Peczely who became known as the Father of Iridology because of the guide to the subject he wrote in the 1880s. Dr. Bernard Jensen pioneered the science of iridology in the US. Dr. Josef Deck, from Germany also helped to bring iridology into worldwide recognition.
Practitioners of Iridology claim to be able to detect numerous diseases and disorders including stress, depression, diabetes and hyperthyroidism by studying the shape, color and malformations of the irises of the eyes. Both eyes are used for this diagnosis.
Perhaps modern medicine is drawing closer to alternative and holistic methods. An article from Ophthalmology Times stated: "Iridology or iridiagnosis is described as a science revealing pathologic and functional disorders in the human body by means of abnormal lines, spots, and discoloration on the iris." The article goes on to say that orthodox medicine is finding itself more and more invaded by non-traditional or alternative medical practices and many of these are now included in the curriculum at medical schools.
A news release reveals that UIC researchers are studying a simple, objective measure of levels of sleepiness to help diagnose and treat disorders such as narcolepsy and sleep apnea. They are, in fact, using a form of iridology. The researchers are investigating the feasibility of using a measure of pupil size as a means of objectively diagnosing sleep disorders like narcolepsy and sleep apnea.
The news release states: "The method being tested at UIC, called pupillometry, measures the size of the pupil as it oscillates and gradually decreases in size when a person becomes sleepy. Measurements are taken as subjects sit quietly in a comfortable chair in the dark for 15 minutes with their eyes open, trying to stay awake. The readings are used to calculate the extent of pupil oscillation, an indicator of sleepiness. Participants will include people with no sleep disturbances in order to determine a normal range of sleepiness levels."
Iridology? I would say so. Perhaps the old methods were not as far off base as orthodox medicine has always believed.
Published On: August 22, 2008