Retinal scanners are cool, high-tech security devices, but they’re not the only ones that use the eye to identify people. Today, we’re going to talk about iris scanners.

What is the iris?

The iris is the colored portion of the eye. It squeezes or relaxes to let light through the pupil. That’s why your pupil is smaller when it’s bright out, and larger when it’s dark.

What are iris scanners?

Iris scanners are digital cameras that use visible and near-infrared light to take a picture of the iris. They identify the outer and inner boundaries of the iris, then make sure to exclude eyelids, eyelashes, and reflections. The scanners then use mathematical pattern-recognition on these images to identify an individual.

Why is the iris so useful for scanners?

An iris being scanned

Irises have very complex patterns believed to be unique to each person. In fact, identical twins have different iris textures, and people’s left and right eyes are different too. Also, irises usually don’t change as a person ages, even after eye surgery. The cornea protects irises from harm, leaving them undamaged in a way that you can’t guarantee with fingerprints. Glasses and contact lenses don’t interfere, and even blind people can use them as long as they have irises.

That said, no biometric system, iris scanners included, are completely foolproof. Iris scanners can be tricked by digital recreations of the iris, or in some cases, even using digital photos that have been slightly manipulated.

Where are iris scanners used?

Iris scanners are used at some airports at security screenings and passport control. Iris scanners are also deployed along the United States borders, and at every point of entrance to the United Arab Emirates where a visa is required.

Military personnel also use them to identify detainees, and some law enforcement agencies use them in lieu of fingerprints.

But while they are advantageous in many regards, civil liberties and privacy concerns have been raised over the use of iris scanners and other biometric data collection. For example, some people are concerned iris scans could be collected without a person’s knowledge or consent. Also, if this information is stolen by identity thieves, it could be extremely challenging to reclaim your identity, especially since you can’t just get a new set of eyes.

Are my irises healthy?

If you want to make sure your irises, along with the rest of your eye, are working properly, make an appointment with a CEENTA eye doctor. They will help make your eyes as healthy as possible and have no problems when your irises are scanned.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. Would you like an appointment with a CEENTA eye doctor? Call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.


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