All reptiles have eyelids with many using their lower lid more than their upper lid. The eyes have conjunctiva, which is a tissue that lines the inner lids to the eyeball. The colored part of the eye is the iris and this allows light flow through opening and closing. As with humans and other animal species, a Chinese water dragon can be prone to an eye infection.
What is an Eye Infection?
An eye infection can be a result of a number of things and often results in a bacterial or fungal infection. This can cause pain, discomfort or discharge. In some cases, you may be able to treat the eye infection at home, but in most cases, you will want to visit a vet to ensure you preserve your reptile’s eyesight.
Signs of an Eye Infection in Chinese Water Dragons
- Discharge from the eye
- Closed eyes
- Mass on eye
- Film over eye
- Swollen eyelid
What Causes Chinese Water Dragon Eye Infection
Eyes are always kept moist with tears. Eye irritation can result in an overproduction of tears and these tears can even change consistency as a result. As with our eyes, your dragon has drainage in their eyes that can result in tears moving to the nasal canal. When a duct is blocked, the tears will run down your dragon’s face. If the drainage system remains blocked, it can create a bulge that may require surgery to repair.
In order for your Chinese water dragon to shed, it needs ample humidity and moisture. Inadequate humidity can cause a retained shed and this can happen over the eyes. You may notice that your dragon doesn't complete their shed properly and they have shed covering one or both eyes. It's not easy to remove, but you will want to try and carefully remove this shed as soon as you can. You can use a wet Q tip. If it does not come off easily, then ensure you make a vet appointment soonest.
Related - A good way to maintain high humidity levels in a Chinese water dragon tank is to use a misting system. The Exo Terra Monsoon Solo is recommended due to its simplicity and performance.
A mild abrasion from rubbing on various enclosure surfaces can result in trauma to the eye, which will heal quickly with topical antibiotics. If the trauma is severe, then your dragon may require surgery. It's not uncommon for a mild abrasion to turn into an infection is not treated quickly and effectively.
It's not uncommon for your dragon to get some substrate or another foreign body in the eye. This can get stuck on the conjunctiva tissue. Bedding material is often the leading cause of foreign bodies in the eye that can result as a full-blown eye infection if not treated quickly.
Chinese Water Dragon Eye Infection Treatment
There are a number of treatment options you can try at home before venturing to the vet. Remember this is your reptile’s eye, so you don't want to wait too long. If you are unsure on how to treat, rather get your reptile to the vet soonest.
Dip a Q tip in iodine and gently flush the eye. Iodine has proven effective on eye infections, helping to flush the infection away.
Topical ointments that are an antibiotic ointment will help to fight the infection and reduce the symptoms, making your dragon more comfortable. You can buy antibiotic ointment from your vet.
Get your Chinese water dragon to the vet and get a topical cream to treat the infection and preserve their sight in the long run.
For foreign bodies use a Q tip and saline to rinse the eye. The foreign body should be removed by a vet if it doesn't wash out with the saline solution. If removing the object yourself, be very gentle and careful to not cause any further damage to the eye.
Eye Infection Prevention
Prevention is always better than cure, so ensure you provide a clean and stable environment for your Chinese water dragon and handle them properly to reduce the risk of infecting them.
Keep your reptile’s temperature, humidity and feeding at optimal to ensure your dragon remains strong and healthy, helping them fight eye infections easily.
Choose substrate with care, ensuring that you don't choose something that has small pieces which can get into the eye. Stay away from gravel, walnut shells wood chips and coco fibers, rather use sphagnum moss, for example, which is moist so the risk is reduced.
Eliminate any sharp edges or pieces you find in the enclosure to reduce the risk of your dragon scratching his/her eye in their own habitat.
It is very common for Chinese water dragons to have eye infections from time to time. In fact, your dragon may have more than one eye infection in their lifetime. Having some idea on how to prevent this from happening, can reduce the risk of having to deal with an eye infection in the long run.