Snow Blind with T5HO

eat2muchrice

Avid Member
I had upgraded my UVB lighting to a new T5 HO setup and noticed it almost instantly blinded my chameleon, Sunny. His symptoms showed he was possibly having “Snow Blind” vision problems; closing his eyes, reaching for nothing, missing targets with his tongue, can’t find water to drink and hanging in odd locations.

At first I didn’t know what has happening and had thought it could be parasites, so for a few weeks I kept doing fecal test and ending up finding nothing. I decided to convert the enclosure to bare bone and removed all extra lights and live plants. Because he could not find any water I substituted his hydration with hornworms and gave roaches dosed with Retpaid. I also replaced his vitamins with a new batch in case they were expired.

After that he slowly started recovering within 3 days was back to normal within a couple of weeks. I left things alone for a while decided to reset up his enclosure again. I assumed I had installed the new T5 light too close and raised it up additional 4 inches from last time making the basking spot 14-18” away from the light. Right when I turned on the light Sunny instantly went Snow Blind again, he reached for dead space and swung down hanging from his back legs.

My [email protected] thought he just needed to adjust to the brightness and left it on for the rest of the day. Now he is back Snow Blind and can hardly see where he is going, when he tries to eat he’ll lock onto his target 3 inches above where it is and horribly miss, I end up just sticking the food into his mouth when he opens up.

So again I removed the New T5 light and hope he will recover quickly, my question is has anyone here had this problem before with these light systems? For almost a decade I’ve been using a custom Mercury Vapor setup and it has worked great for my other chameleon with no problems.

Here is the lighting setup I’m talking about.
*Carolina Custom Cages T5HO UVB 15W Light Fixture
*Zoo Med Reptisun 15W 5.0 T5HO UVB fluorescent lamp
 

eat2muchrice

Avid Member
I also understand that brand new lights can have high amounts of radiation for the first few weeks, so I did let it run in my bearded dragon enclosure for a while before my second attempt with the chameleon. I did notice my bearded dragon close her eyes more during that time, but it never made her snow blind. Beardies are like mini tanks :D.
 

jannb

Chameleon Enthusiast
I burn my lights for a couple weeks before using them for a chameleon. Even then I recommend raising them up off the top of the cage. You can hang them from the ceiling.
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
I've never heard of anything like this—especially with a 5.0 UVB. There's another thread about someone who got a brand-new bulb that emitted no UVB whatsoever (as measured with a Solarmeter). I'm wondering if you have the opposite situation, and the bulb is emitting a much higher level of UVB than it's supposed to. Do you have—or can you borrow—a Solarmeter?

It's also puzzling since a mercury vapor bulb would put out a much higher level of UVB than a T5.

If you can check the bulb out and it's functioning within normal parameters (Geez, I sound like Data) then I would take the cham to a vet. This shouldn't happen.
 

jannb

Chameleon Enthusiast
I've never heard of anything like this—especially with a 5.0 UVB. There's another thread about someone who got a brand-new bulb that emitted no UVB whatsoever (as measured with a Solarmeter). I'm wondering if you have the opposite situation, and the bulb is emitting a much higher level of UVB than it's supposed to. Do you have—or can you borrow—a Solarmeter?

It's also puzzling since a mercury vapor bulb would put out a much higher level of UVB than a T5.

If you can check the bulb out and it's functioning within normal parameters (Geez, I sound like Data) then I would take the cham to a vet. This shouldn't happen.
New bulbs often bother their eyes, especially babies.
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
New bulbs often bother their eyes, especially babies.
OK, but in the 2nd paragraph, he implied that this had been going on for "a few weeks".
That should have been enough time for the bulb to settle in.
I'd at least like to know what that bulb is putting out.

FWIW, I have a very strong 6% bulb. Instead of 8-9 inches from basking site, I had to lower the site to 12-14 inches from the bulb to get UVI of 3. At 9" it still measures 6+ (after 3+ months).
 

eat2muchrice

Avid Member
I am puzzled as well, first time I ran the bulb for 2 weeks, then another 3 weeks before my second try with the chameleon. I wanted to get the best for my now 5-6 month old panther and everyone is so hyped up about T5HO. Maybe it is a defective fixture or lamp that is outputting huge amounts of unwanted radiation. I'll nurse his health back up and keep my old MV setup, its been tested and proven to work well for me.

No, I don't have a solor meter, 10 years ago I had borrowed one for our local pet store to set up my Mercury Vapor light. They are gone now so I just used the online chart for the recommended distance for a T5HO.
 

Klyde O'Scope

Chameleon Enthusiast
It wouldn't be the fixture. T5HO is a good lamp, but defects can occur with anything.
I don't have any experience with mercury Vapor lamps, but everything I've read says they're better for long distances—like setting up free-range.

'Tis a puzzlement.
 
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