Whether it's in the morning eating toast; at work on my lunch break; and especially during the night when I'm unable to sleep, spooning peanut butter from the jar like the disgusting mouth-breather I am, you can guarantee I'll be hypnotised by what some 17-year-old who still lives at home and is studying for her AS Levels has consumed that day. I spend too much time watching YouTube videos about vegan food. Like, every fucking day.
It was only a matter of time, then, before I stumbled across a dark secret. The holy grail of HCLF (High Carb Low Fat) and raw veganism: the fabled full eye colour change.
The queen of this phenomenon is Fully Raw Kristina. Her video in which she explains how her eyes changed from brown to blue-green on a raw vegan diet has over two million views. She went to an iridologist, who explained that each part of your body and organs is reflected in your eye. It's like reflexology where your body is mapped out on your foot, but with your eye. Using iridology, you can see if there are internal problems.
If you're immediately thinking that this strain of science sounds like bullshit, then let me share with you this video I found in a late night peanut butter wormhole, featuring elderly man Dr Robert Morse, a revered natural doctor and iridologist, pointing at a little fleck on a picture of a woman's eye with a laser pen and talking about that says about her uterus, suggesting she 'get in there' and strengthen the vaginal wall. Yeah. This stuff gets deep.
Anyway, young pre-raw Kristina was only going to the bathroom once a week and was very constipated, eating a poor, high-fat diet. She says her iridologist told her: if her colon was all bunged up with toxins and other shit, that gunk was literally reflected in her eyes. After turning raw vegan: boom! Gone was the clogging and the nastiness and magically her eyes became blue. Already this sounds a bit dodgy. Quackery alarm bells will no doubt start ringing for the cynical when she starts talking about seeing the soul through the eyes and raw food cleansing the soul, yadda yadda.
Kristina after. Crazy, hey!?
As odd as this is, she's not the only one talking about it. There are forums on most HCLF blogs about it and a few videos of vloggers discussing changes to their eye colour with FAQs, what to expect and what not to expect. It's almost aspirational: a prize for those who commit their time and money into the extreme lifestyle. Physical, visible confirmation – besides the usual emphasis on weight loss – that what they are doing must be the good and right way to live life. There's definitely something problematic somewhere deep in there about blue or light eyes are used to signify a clean "pure" body, while people of colour question whether it can happen for them in comment sections.
ANYWAY. Let's get down to it. Is it a truckload of bollocks? A thorough Google will tell you there is little proof that raw fruit and veg can change the colour of your eyes. In fact, there's no evidence that suggests a change of eye colour can ever be a good thing, but there is evidence that it can indicate something bad: Horner's syndrome and pigment dispersion syndrome, for example.
All five iridologists I asked said the idea sounded weird. Yorkshire-based iridologist John Andrews said: "Alas, it is a misconception that eyes change colour with diet. It is a scientific impossibility." Yvonne Davis, an iridologist from London, was similarly sceptical but explained how the colour-change could potentially have happened. "Most iridologists believe the colour of your eyes really can't and doesn't change that much. By the late teens to early twenties, your eyes are how they will last until you die. But until that point they're still changing; depending on your age, it might just be this, rather than anything to do with your diet.
"Sometimes when people are older, in their forties and fifties, if they've had a toxic lifestyle and then go total detox – we're talking for at least a year – their eyes might appear lighter. When you get older you also might get some more pigmentation in them." I showed her the video of Fully Raw Kristina for reference. "If someone does detox or eat vegan, some colours and signs in your eyes can change – slightly. But it's very, very rare for eyes to go from brown to blue-hazel like this. I find it highly suspect."
Yvonne did, however, suggest that in Kristina's case, it could be down to the digestive problems she describes on-camera. "In iridology, the stomach area is represented just outside the pupil. If people have real digestive problems, that can make this area appear more a bit more brown. She's cleared up her diet and that pigmentation could have got a bit lighter and shown the blue hazel she'd already got underneath. It could be something like that, but I'm really not sure, I'm still suspicious." It could be more about people having initial digestive problems, then, than the raw veganism working magic on your eyeballs.
Someone who disagrees vehemently with these eye experts, though, is Ondrej Matej, a vegan dietician and personal trainer. "Absolutely, diet can change your eye colour. That's been known for a little while." He explained that his eyes had in fact changed on raw food. "They went from a very dark brown to a light brown with very slight green circle around it. You can tell eyes get lighter depending on what you eat." He started talking about iridology stuff, too. "You have little dots in your eyes and each one is connected to organs in your body. They show the health of your organs. Healthy means clearer."
If this is legit then, then should people – mostly girls, it should be said – talking about it online be expecting this physical change? "It's not like one day they're brown, then they're blue. It's a process that takes years," he said. Pushed harder he admitted that not everyone would see the change. "It'll be down to genetics as well. It's a very difficult subject. It's not something that'd happen every time and it might just be your eyes will become more open and clear."
Ondrej believes that people might be noticing this now because raw veganism or HCLF is a recent trend. Additionally, it takes a long time to see these results so if it was real – as he insists it is – we would only really be finding out about it now. "People might not believe it now but this could be something that might be recurring a lot more in the future." More and more people are going veggie or vegan and Rawtil4 and HCLF is attracting plenty of people for health or weight-loss reasons. But the bottom line is: no one really seems to know if it's bollocks or not – although my bullshitometer is firmly swinging towards the iridologists' hot take on this one. Until a future where each one of us is gnawing on twenty bananas for breakfast and spiralized courgettes for lunch, maybe we will never know the truth.
More healthy shit from VICE: