The eye of the chameleon is very sophisticated and therefore it is prone to problems, including eye infections. Chameleons rely on their eyesight in order to hunt, with poor or no sight, your chameleon will not eat. A healthy chameleon eye is bright and alert and its eyes should not close during the day. If your chameleon is closing his eyes or there is any swelling, visit your reptile vet soonest to treat the eye problem effectively.
Chameleon Eye Infection Symptoms
Symptoms associated with an eye infection in chameleon pets include:
- One or both eyes appear swollen
- The eye has fluid weeping from it
- Eye or both eyes remain closed during daytime hours
- Your chameleon is constantly rubbing an eye
- Your chameleon is not eating
There are many reasons your chameleon may be suffering from an eye infection. The good news is that they are common in these reptiles and fast and effective treatment with your vet will ensure the best possible outcome.
Not enough airflow in the enclosure can result in your chameleon developing an eye infection. Airflow is essential to reduce the risk of your reptile pet having to breathe in stale and dirty air.
Foreign bodies, trauma, and scratches to the eye can all lead to an eye infection if not treated properly. Foreign bodies can get stuck in the eye and cause scratches. Your vet will use specialized instruments to detect the foreign body and remove it.
Vitamin A Deficiency
When your chameleon has its eyes closed during the daytime, it is a warning sign you mustn't ignore. If your chameleon is closing its eyes, this could mean a Vitamin A deficiency. As a result, your chameleon will not eat, which lowers the immune system and can result in a serious eye infection.
You may see that the eye turrets are sinking in your chameleon, which is a sign of dehydration or exhaustion. This may be that your female chameleon has exhausted herself laying her eggs, probably dehydrating herself in the process. If the eyes remain alert, but just sunken, then this is no cause for concern and food, rest and water will help replenish her. If the eyes remain sunken and are not alert, seek veterinary assistance before it develops any further.
Internal stress can result in the eyes being sunken and non-responsive, which is a sign you need to take action. Distress can be a result of egg binding in female chameleons, which can be life-threatening without veterinary assistance. It can also be a result of parasites which have grown out of control resulting in organ stress and infection. Most chameleon problems internally will show in the eyes.
How To Treat Chameleon Eye Infection
Before you do anything, you are going to want to examine the eye and see if you can identify discharge or swelling. You can use a magnifying glass to look for foreign objects, but do not remove them yourself to reduce the risk of injuring the eye any further. Flush the eye with clean water.
Ensure that while waiting for your vet appointment, you provide a healthy and balanced diet, including green vegetables to ensure it is getting the vitamins it needs. A vitamin deficiency can result in an eye infection.
Go to the Vet
When you notice any eye infection symptoms in your chameleon, you want to make a plan to get to the vet. As mentioned before, if the eye is closed or your chameleon’s eye is negatively impacted in any way, it will not hunt and eat. This can lower the immune system, making your chameleon more susceptible to infections. The vet will probably prescribe a topical medication to apply directly to the eye.
The best way to manage eye infections in chameleons is to prevent them all together. There are a number of things you can do to prevent an eye infection. Bear in mind that eye infections in chameleons are relatively common and with the right care and treatment, your chameleon will be back to full health in no time.
A chameleon habitat needs proper ventilation. If the air isn't refreshed regularly, your chameleon can develop a number of health problems from respiratory infections to eye infections. You will find that mold will develop faster, making it dangerous for your reptile pet. You will struggle to manage humidity levels when you don't have the right ventilation.
Solid enclosures, often chosen for snakes and other lizards are not suitable for your chameleon, they simply do not have sufficient ventilation. You will find that the top being mesh isn't enough to provide the optimum ventilation for your reptilian pet. You need a minimum of two mesh sides to the enclosure, the mesh portion needs to be large to allow ample air circulation. If you are really struggling with ventilation, consider purchasing an affordable computer fan to place on one side to push fresh air into the enclosure.
Substrate and Decorations
A chameleon does not spend much time on the ground of the enclosure, so newspaper is a great substrate that doesn't have any loose particles that can get into your pet’s eyes. When decorating the enclosure with branches and vines, remove any sharp pieces and edges to reduce the risk of your chameleon scratching its eye, which can develop into an infection.
Keeping your chameleon enclosure clean reduces the risk of parasites, which can cause stress and result in an eye infection. Spot clean your pet’s enclosure daily to remove dead insects, mess, and feces. You will want to change and clean decorations weekly, along with changing the substrate or newspaper on the bottom of the enclosure. You will want to do a thorough deep clean of the enclosure by emptying and disinfecting everything at least every six months.
You should already be supplementing your chameleon’s diet with calcium and vitamin D3 to reduce the risk of metabolic bone disease. Look for a good multivitamin that includes Vitamin A. This can help reduce the risk of deficiency which can result in your pet not eating due to its eyes being closed. A chameleon not eating is not staying healthy and strong, which can increase the risk of infection.