April 2011
Volume 52, Issue 14
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   April 2011
Commercially Available Reptile Lights - Good For Animal Bad For Handler?
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jan P. Bergmanson
    J Davis Armistead Bldg, Univ of Houston Coll of Optometry, Houston, Texas
  • James E. Walsh
    Department of Physics, Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin, Ireland
  • Krystal L. Schulle
    J Davis Armistead Bldg, Univ of Houston Coll of Optometry, Houston, Texas
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships  Jan P. Bergmanson, None; James E. Walsh, None; Krystal L. Schulle, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  None
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science April 2011, Vol.52, 1547. doi:
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      Jan P. Bergmanson, James E. Walsh, Krystal L. Schulle; Commercially Available Reptile Lights - Good For Animal Bad For Handler?. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2011;52(14):1547.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Purpose: : Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) emitting sources required to support metabolic needs of reptiles may be incandescent, fluorescent or both and the purpose of this study was to evaluate a cross section of commercially available such lamps to see if they pose an ocular UVR toxicity risk to the animal handler.

Methods: : A range of UVR reptile lamps were tested using an Ocean Optics USB4000 spectrometer, whose front end fibre optic had a cosine diffuser attached, that was calibrated against an Ocean Optics LS1Cal tungsten source. The test lamps were observed at the bulb and at 30cm, the recommended operating distance specified by the manufacturers. The resulting spectral irradiance data was then compared to typical summertime solar radiation levels in Texas at midday.

Results: : UVR lamp spectral irradiance curves showed a broad range of output intensities and spectral profiles, based on whether they were tungsten incandescent, neodymium filtered or mercury based fluorescent types and also on their construction, pressure and stated electrical input wattage. Many of the lamps when measured directly beside the bulb (<1 cm) had significantly higher levels of UVR, both UVA (315-400 nm) and UVB (280-315 nm), than ambient Texas summertime sunlight, while falling off by more than a factor of 10 at 30 cm. Several lights emitted radiation below 300 nm in the UVB below any available solar UVR and others have UVB spectral peaks more than 10 times that of equivalent solar UVR, making them considerably toxic when the human ocular media action spectra are considered. In addition, the spectra obtained did not always correlate with those provided by the manufacturer implying that the latter were sometimes crude estimates of the actual lamp spectrum.

Conclusions: : Many of the lamps emitted dangerous levels of UVR that may be harmful to animal handlers or pet owners, while some sources provided negligible UVR and thus would not deliver the radiation promised. To ensure the safety of UVR reptile lamp users there needs to be a greater regulation of acceptable lamp power output, continuity of spectral shape and uniformity of the safety information provided by the respective manufacturers. In particular, the degree of ocular protection the user need.

Keywords: radiation damage: light/UV 

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