Thursday, January 22, 2009

Compact UVB bulbs, harmful to reptiles?

I have seen a lot of people on the net say compact UVB bulbs are harmful to reptiles. Compact bulbs meaning they are shaped like a regular tube bent in half, corkscrew or in the shape of a halo/circle. These are being made by several different reptile product manufactures. The lights are said to cause blindness in your animals. Well, I've done some research on the net and found a website that actually did studies on these bulbs and had reported cases of effected reptiles along with some pretty sad pictures. This is the site, I encourage you to check it out!

Basically the information in the sites I've found on the net( not just the one I created the link to) states that these bulbs put out harmful amounts of UV radiation which can harm your reptile in more than one way. First off it states that because they are too bright and put out low wave length UVB and UVC your reptile gets photo-kerato-conjunctivitis ( basically the same thing as snow blindness in humans). It states that the eyes swell up and eventually swell shut. Accompanying this your reptiles exhibit lethargy, decreased appetite, sometimes even lesions that look like burns and exfoliation of the skin on the eyelids. Luckily they state that this is not permanent and if the bulbs are removed your reptile should be fully recovered in 2-14 days. Also (my theory from past experience) If exposed for a long period of time your reptile is unable to control how much D3 it makes and the calcium levels increase making it susceptible to getting Hypercalcemia, especially if you are giving it a D3 supplement. (I am currently working to prove this with the help of my vet) Look at the previous post to learn about Hypercalcemia.

Here are some pics of different compact bulbs

I have talked to my veterinarian about this subject and sent her to the above link. She had not heard about this before and started looking for the illness "photo-kerato-conjunctivitis" in her reference books. So far she has not found anything. This is a relative new thing with reptiles being that these bulbs have not been around for very long so it may be that that's why she can't find it. The both of us are very interested in learning the truth of the matter. She has told me she will be talking to some experts in the reptile veterinary field and let me know if she finds anything out. I will keep you posted on anything I find out! If you have anything you would like to share about your personal experiences with these lights please leave a comment or email me about it.
Part two: 01-29-09
Alright, so I did some more research since first writing this post. I looked at some of the medical websites and found definitions for Photokeratitis and Photoconjunctivitis which combined is what "photo-kerato-conjunctivitis" seems to be referring to. Photokeratitis is a burn of the cornea (the clear front surface of the eye) by ultraviolet B rays (UVB). Also called radiation keratitis or snowblindness. The World Health Organization(WHO) explains that Photokeratitis is an inflammation of the cornea, while photoconjunctivitis refers to an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the membrane that lines the inside of the eyelids and eye socket. These inflammatory reactions may be compared to a sunburn of the very sensitive skin-like tissues of the eyeball and eyelids and usually appear within a few hours of exposure. Photokeratitis and photoconjunctivitis can be very painful, however, they are reversible and do not seem to result in any long-term damage to the eye or vision.
I also read(from the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Heath ) overexposure to UV radiation may suppress proper functioning of the body’s immune system and the skin’s natural defenses, increasing sensitivity to sunlight, diminishing the effects of immunizations or causing reactions to certain medications. And also( from Encyclopedia II), prolonged exposure to solar UV radiation may result in acute and chronic health effects on the skin, eye, and immune system.
This (below) was from a fact sheet on ultraviolet radiation.
Exposure and Hazards of UVExposure to UV light posses a serious threat to both the eye and skin. Diagnosis of exposure may vary but are commonly set into two categories, photokeratitis (eye injury) and erythema (sunburn). Photokeratitis is an inflammation of the cornea (outer protective coating of the eye) that is caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Eye injury can occur due to very brief exposure or with just a flash of intense UV. Erythema is sunburn of the skin and can occur within a few seconds of exposure to a concentrated form of UV. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light also causes premature aging and cancer of the skin. So what would a lizard look like if it had sunburn? It would look like it was shedding continuously, especially around the eyes. This is also described as being apart of "photo-kerato-conjunctivitis".
Here is a link to a recall page from R-Zilla discussing the affected bulbs and that it causes "photo-kerato-conjunctivitis"

Here are two websites about reptile lighting that briefly mention "photo-kerato-conjuctivitis"
This is a very interesting thread I found(below), it actually has the people from the UV guide website talking on here. This thread talks about how these lights can cause toxic levels of D3! It's kinda lengthy but worth it to hear what they are talking about.
RE: [UVB_Meter_Owners] Re: New file - R-Zilla advert - toxic D3 from abnormal spectra?
I will continue to keep you guys posted with whatever else I might find!
So I have been doing a lot of research on this matter and have contacted the author of the UV guide website. Talking to her has really made me understand why the affected bulbs are "bad". She has been a great help in understanding what to look for in a reptile's blood to prove or disprove Hypercalcaemia in affected reptiles. I had a pair of lizards that were affected by a "bad" bulb and that is what started my interest in the matter. The pair of lizards I have, have almost fully recovered. The author of the site is currently working on a publication about this and I have given her my case history of my lizards as well as other affected reptiles I have aquired affected by "bad" bulbs. I started asking around and found some reptiles that were affected and I asked permission to document their recovery. I have been taking them to my vet and I'm trying to see if any of them are Hypercalcaemic. In the future I will be trying to get a solar meter so that I may test "bad" bulbs myself. This little research project has now become much bigger than I ever thought. It has really intrigued my interest and when I am able to post my findings and results on affected reptiles I will. I will also inform you about what the author of the UV guide website has found out about these harmful bulbs after she publishes it.