12 Facts about Chameleon Eyes

One extraordinary feature chameleons have is their eyes. Chameleons rely primarily on their eyes to catch their prey. Their eyes are powerful, in that they can see miles and identify small insects 5-10 meters away.

1. Independent movement

Chameleons can rotate their eyes at almost 342 degrees, and the eyes move independently from eachother. They have a blind spot at 18 degrees.

Chameleons rotate their eyes 180 degrees horizontally and 90 degrees vertically. A chameleon’s eyes are mounted on small turrets. Without moving their head, they can thoroughly look at their surroundings to search for prey.  They can even rotate each eye independently in different directions.

2. Focusing capability

Chameleons have a negative lens, called the concave lens, and a positive or convex cornea. This characteristic allows chameleons to zoom in and magnify things. This capability is not present in any other vertebrate. Chameleons can see many further distances than humans can.

3. No Nightvision

Even though chameleon eyes have great capabilities, they cannot see at night. This is the primary reason why they have diurnal sleep habits.  Being diurnal means they are awake during the day and sleep at night.

4. Blinking

Actually, no!  Chameleons do not blink their eyes. Because they have only one eyelid that is cone-shaped, this cone-shaped eyelid joins to their eyeball and covers the whole part of the eyeball, just leaving a small opening slit that exposes the pupil.

So, as chameleons have only a single eyelid, they cannot blink their eyes.

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5. Self-cleaning eyes

When a chameleon’s eyes are irritated, they move their eyeballs up. The nictitating membrane present in their eyelids moves across the eyeball like a wiper blade to clean the eyeball.

6. Blindness and Color Blindness

Like humans, chameleons can be blind or color blind.  A blind chameleon will not survive in the wild, but you can hand feed a pet chameleon.

Unlike other animals, chameleons can see all the same colors that we can see.  In addition, chameleons can see ultraviolet light, which we cannot. If a chameleon is color blind, it can still magnify its prey.

7. Eye problems

Though chameleons have self-cleansing mechanisms for their eyes, they can’t defend themselves from any infections affecting the eyes. If a chameleon’s eyes are swollen for more than 24 hours, you must take them to the vet. Chameleon’s eyes can get infected because of the following reasons:

  • Poor ventilation and lighting
  • Scratches to the eyeball
  • Vitamin A deficiency
  • Dehydration
  • Bacteria

Chameleons require proper UV-B light to stay healthy and prevent any eye infections. We know that chameleons are virtually blind at night, and during the day, they can see crystal clear.

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When you regularly mist/shower their cage, they are able to clean their eyes when they cannot do it with the nictitating membrane.

8.Do chameleons close their eyes while sleeping?

Chameleons used to sleep with one eye open and one eye closed. But, some chameleons close their both eyes, but not completely closed. You can guess if they are sleeping by observing their eyes.

Their eyes will be opened little when they sleep. They can not close their eyes completely 100%, like other animals, because they have only a single eyelid.

9.Can chameleons rotate their eyes in all directions?

Chameleons have a specialty of rotating the eyes in any direction. Their eyes have slightly bulged. So they can focus both eyes on one object or focus on two different things with each eye.

10.Why do chameleon’s eyes pop out?

Whenever chameleon’s eyes get dirt, they need to clean it by themselves. You might be observed, sometimes, chameleon’s eyes get bulged and rotate the bulged part.

This is because they circulate the fluid inside the eyes and rotate the liquid to clean up their eyes. If it turns its eyes for more than 24 hours, your chameleon has some problems and should take it to your vet.

11.What are the colors that chameleons can recognize?

The chameleons can recognize the colors just as humans. But they can also recognize the ultraviolet light, which humans can not recognize.

12.Do chameleons have good eyesight?

Yes! Chameleons do have excellent eyesight. They can recognize and catch small insects that are 5 to 10 meters away from them. They are also able to recognize ultraviolet light, which any other animals cannot identify.

The eyes of a chameleon rotate for 342-degree vision due to unique eye anatomy. So they can transition between monocular and binocular vision.

They are the only animals on the planet that can rotate their eyes all over 342 degrees.