Blind chameleon

Reptilelover47

Established Member
Hey guys. I have a 7.5 month old panther chameleon, Spectrum. He is the sweetest thing!
About 2 weeks ago I noticed that my usually active piggy eater wasn't eating or being active. He was just hugging a branch, resting all day and didn't even care when I showed him food.Then I started to notice white discharge from his left eye. I made him a vet appointment for the very next day.
I brought him to an amazing exotics/reptile vet and discussed possible causes, diagnosis, and treatment. She had told me that she had seen many animals, specially reptiles and birds with similar problems who went blind in that eye and that the eye had to be removed. She said that it could simply be an infection, but that it could be a genetic disorder. We agreed that it was most likely a mutation because his coloring already isn't normal. He is supposed to be a blue bar and his siblings and sire all have blue bars, green bodies, and red/orange on bottom of the body. He is bright turquoise and just this week developed deep red bars. So we think that since he has one obvious mutation he most likely has more. So, it's a birth defect that is showing itself a little down the line.
The vet gave me eye drops to give him twice a day that were a topical antibiotic (in case it is an infection) and were also an anti-inflammatory to stop the pain and get him active and eating/drinking again. She also gave me Vitamin B complex to give him every other day to get him to eat/drink more. He showed improvement quickly, his eye looked better the first few days, he was active, and began eating about half of his normal diet. I could see that he couldn't see on the one side because he was stumbling a lot, feeling around, and even fell two times that I know of.
I brought him back to the vet for a follow up yesterday and she explained that the eye had gone completely blind and that it would be reabsorbed by the body & shrivel up. She said to continue the eye drops for pain until that happened.
Tonight, I came home from work and went to check on him. He was hugging a branch with both eyes open at 9:45. He's normally asleep by 7. I looked at his eyes and the right eye is full of the same white discharge. I'm really scared now because it looks like he's going to be blind in both eyes. He is very scared too. His colors, actions, and body language all suggest that he is scared and uncomfortable. I tried to pick him up for a closer look and he began hissing because he didn't know what was touching him. After I rubbed his chin he calmed down because he knew it was me. I rub his chin every time I play with him or feed him so he calmed down and after trying for 10 minutes I managed to take him out of his enclosure and he is now sitting on my bed not moving because he doesn't know what to do.
I called the Vet's emergency line and they transferred me to another hospital. That hospital's emergency line told me to call back tomorrow when their exotics specialist would be in. I also sent our vet an email.

I would like to know if anyone has had a similar experience, if anyone knows anything about this, has any advice or suggestions, whether you think he will make it, whether or not he would be suffering if he were to stay alive, and what it's like to raise a blind chameleon.
I know that I could train him to open his mouth for food by tapping his nose, but it'll take a while. I also know that I can let him know it's me touching him by rubbing his chin.

What do you guys think?
 

Reptilelover47

Established Member
I even shone a flashlight in his eye to see if he could see and he had barely any reaction his his newly diseased eye. The other eye has no reaction. I can't see the pupil in either eye. It's covered by a thick film. The vet said that even if the film were to go away he's still be blind.
 
You chameleon does not have a genetic disorder just because he does not show the same coloration as his parents or siblings. Your chameleon can show recessive colors that do not show in the parents or offspring. To say that your chameleon will have other mutations because of that does not make sense. There is no correlation IMO.

Here is a thread on eye problems. Does the thick film look like the picture in this thread? You said it is white but the picture in this thread it looks yellowish https://www.chameleonforums.com/eye-problems-76636/
 

little leaf

Avid Member
i had a rescue who lost her left eye, and then her right swelled shut- I would tap her branch before I would pick her up, she got used to it very fast- and as you said, I would kinda roll the syringe next to her mouth, and she would let me feed her- she was not allowed to have solid food due to a broken jaw- but she did learn to trust me - here is a pic of her eating - she has passed on now- but you can teach them to feed :)
 

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jannb

Chameleon Enthusiast
Welcome to the forums and I am sorry to hear about the problems you are having with Spectrum. Please post some photos of him and fill out the Ask For Help Form linked below so we can better help you and your chameleon. I would also highly recommend you get a second opinion from a different vet that has experience with chameleons.
https://www.chameleonforums.com/how-ask-help-66/

Here's a couple of NJ vets that other members here have used.

Advanced Care Small & Exotic Vet Hospital
1991 Route 22 West
Bound Brook, NJ 08805
Dr. Barry L. Stuart
(732) 764-9595

Red Bank Veterinary Hospital
www.rbvh.net
in Red Bank,NJ has a great exotic staff but pricy.

Otherwise a good vet in Clifton,NJ

Dr.John Cataldi
10 Samuel Avenue
Clifton,NJ 07013
(973)472-8883


NJ Vets
Dr. Joe Filigno at the Blackwood Animal hospital in Blackwood, NJ

You can also try this link:
http://www.arav.org/find-a-vet/#NewJersey
 
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Reptilelover47

Established Member
You chameleon does not have a genetic disorder just because he does not show the same coloration as his parents or siblings. Your chameleon can show recessive colors that do not show in the parents or offspring. To say that your chameleon will have other mutations because of that does not make sense. There is no correlation IMO.

Here is a thread on eye problems. Does the thick film look like the picture in this thread? You said it is white but the picture in this thread it looks yellowish https://www.chameleonforums.com/eye-problems-76636/

Actually it does make sense. I know a lot about genetics and it was actually the vet's thought first. It's not that he shows recessive traits as much as it is that his coloring is just odd. The genetic disorder wasn't the discoloration it was the eye problem that is a mutation, and when there is one simple mutation like coloring there is almost always some other mutation as well even if it's just as simple and unnoticeable or extremely complex
 

Reptilelover47

Established Member
i had a rescue who lost her left eye, and then her right swelled shut- I would tap her branch before I would pick her up, she got used to it very fast- and as you said, I would kinda roll the syringe next to her mouth, and she would let me feed her- she was not allowed to have solid food due to a broken jaw- but she did learn to trust me - here is a pic of her eating - she has passed on now- but you can teach them to feed :)

That's amazing and she is adorable. How would you say her quality of life was, in all honesty? I do not mean to be offensive in any way. After learning to compensate for the total blindness how was her behavior compared to before when she could see (if you had her then)?
Thank you for sharing
 

Reptilelover47

Established Member
Welcome to the forums and I am sorry to hear about the problems you are having with Spectrum. Please post some photos of him and fill out the Ask For Help Form linked below so we can better help you and your chameleon. I would also highly recommend you get a second opinion for a different vet that has experience with chameleons.
https://www.chameleonforums.com/how-ask-help-66/

Here's a couple of NJ vets that other members here have used.

Advanced Care Small & Exotic Vet Hospital
1991 Route 22 West
Bound Brook, NJ 08805
Dr. Barry L. Stuart
(732) 764-9595

Red Bank Veterinary Hospital
www.rbvh.net
in Red Bank,NJ has a great exotic staff but pricy.

Otherwise a good vet in Clifton,NJ

Dr.John Cataldi
10 Samuel Avenue
Clifton,NJ 07013
(973)472-8883


NJ Vets
Dr. Joe Filigno at the Blackwood Animal hospital in Blackwood, NJ

You can also try this link:
http://www.arav.org/find-a-vet/#NewJersey

Thank you for the help, I can tell that you went out of your way. I appreciate it. Honestly, this vet is great and I was actually referred to her by another veterinary hospital and other reptile owners who have seen multiple vets in NJ. I will look into seeing another vet and I am going to talk to that specialist tomorrow who is another vet in NJ with a great reputation. Hopefully he can help. I will fill out that form soon. Thanks!
 

Reptilelover47

Established Member
Thegreatfonz thank you for the link!

I checked it out. It is similar to the eye infection, but not the same. That is obviously yellow, for us the discharge/film is translucent white. The eye turret looks completely normal too. He also almost never closes his eyes when there's the film. He just partially closes them and rests. Plus, I have checked about lighting and his living conditions are great, not trying to sound arrogant, but I have been going above and beyond what I need to be doing for him. I've been told by the vet and by others that my husbandry is impeccable. Like I said not trying to sound arrogant, I'm just honest. lol. He's a very happy lil fella with a cage a bit larger than 4ft*2ft*2ft that I built myself. He has two types of lighting and a heat emitter, everything is on timers. He gets a lot of misting and even knows that he can drink directly from his spray bottle. He has many real plants along with some fake. All of the plants are safe. He gets a mix of mealworms, crickets, moths, etc. I gutload with papaya, and special feed. I use a variety of vitamins and of course calcium w/ vit D. I am going to try that warm water thing that is suggested on that page and see if it helps. Thanks again.
 

Reptilelover47

Established Member
Here are some pictures of him. His colors have been different since he's been having problems, but he is normally a brighter turquoise than a nosey be and has orange patterning on his face. I will get pics of his eyes tomorrow since he's finally sleeping right now.
 

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little leaf

Avid Member
That's amazing and she is adorable. How would you say her quality of life was, in all honesty? I do not mean to be offensive in any way. After learning to compensate for the total blindness how was her behavior compared to before when she could see (if you had her then)?
Thank you for sharing

I kept her in a smaller ( shorter) cage, she was slow going about her cage, stepped carefully - and I kept all kinds of bushy stuff in the bottom encase she ever fell, but she never did - she would find the basking spot fine- she did not seem to stressed that she could not see - she could see when I got her out of her right eye- the left was already swollen, and gone - my biggest worry was getting enough water, but she was on a liquid diet - so it was never an issue - as Jann said, I would also get another opinion - I do think she had some sight - or at least she seemed to before she passed - if you just watched her, you would not know she could not see - also, if you have a mister- I have many times seen when it kicks on, some of the chams will shut their eyes tight- and still manage to move out from under it - so in a way - they are "blind" for that time- and they have never fallen - if he is indeed blind, you will have to hand feed him - he will not be able to hunt - but even IF he is found to be blind today- that does not always mean he wont get some sight back later - best of luck with him - keep us posted :)
 
Actually it does make sense. I know a lot about genetics and it was actually the vet's thought first. It's not that he shows recessive traits as much as it is that his coloring is just odd. The genetic disorder wasn't the discoloration it was the eye problem that is a mutation, and when there is one simple mutation like coloring there is almost always some other mutation as well even if it's just as simple and unnoticeable or extremely complex

Okay well I hope he pulls through and it sounds like he's in good hands. I'd get a second opinion from a different vet to be safe though.
 

Reptilelover47

Established Member
Thank you everyone I really appreciate it. I love my lil guy & will do whatever is necessary so I do plan to get a second opinion like you all suggested. I will def. keep you posted. Thank you for caring & for sharing your experiences.
 
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