It's not uncommon for a bearded dragon to have eye issues from time to time. In fact, it’s relatively common in reptiles. Reptiles have eyelids the same as we do, except it's the lower lid that moves more. As you have probably woken up now and then with a swollen eye or your eyes watering, the same can happen to your dragon. Knowing the potential causes of eye problems can help you diagnose and secure treatment for your bearded dragon as quickly as possible.
Eye swelling is not uncommon when owning a bearded dragon, this can be a result of numerous factors from infections to irritation. It is recommended that you seek veterinary assistance when you notice eye swelling to eliminate the risk of infection and securing the right treatment without delay. Your vet will probably carry out a blood test, X-Ray, and culture swab to identify the cause.
Swollen eyes in bearded dragons can also be a result of a tumor, blocked tear ducts, and weakened blood vessels.
So many new bearded dragon owners panic when they first see their dragon’s eyes bulging, but this is not an uncommon behavior among these reptiles. One of the theories behind bearded dragon eye bulging is them trying to shed. Eye bulging helps to loosen the skin around the eyelids, preparing the skin for shedding. Remember to provide your dragon with baths, where they can soak up any water. They need to stay hydrated.
Yes, your bearded dragon will shed around the eyes. So, if your dragon has been shedding lately and there is shed left around the eyes, you can assist in removing it by using a soft cotton swap in warm water. The retained shed can occur anywhere around the eyes, including the eyelid, which means your dragon will rub itself to release the retained shed, which can cause damage to the eye.
Soaking a cotton pad in warm water and then placing it on the eye for a few minutes can help with the shedding process, along with regular baths a few times a week. Ensure your tank humidity levels are at optimum, which should be between twenty and forty percent.
The most common cause of eye watering in bearded dragons is a foreign object in the eye, the same as you would experience if a bit of sand or dust got into your eye. You can wash the eye with water to help remove what is causing the irritation. A simple saline solution can also be very helpful in removing foreign objects from the eye.
In addition to this, the eye could be watering due to mild conjunctivitis and inflammation in the front layer of the eye caused by bacteria or virus. Antibacterial drops in the eye from your reptile veterinarian will help to clear up the conjunctivitis and in turn, stop your dragon’s eyes from watering.
It's always recommended in these situations to get eye drops from your vet to fight any diseases causing the eyes from watering. However, many reptile owners choose a home remedy which includes one part of honey to four parts of water and then gently applies to the eyelashes using a Q-Tip. Honey is a natural antibacterial solution. If there is no improvement within a day or two, then you will need veterinary assistance to give your dragon antibiotics to fight the eye problem effectively.
Eye discharge is a sign of eye infection in your bearded dragon. Any discharge from the eye and you should seek veterinary assistance right away. The vet will be able to examine the eye and identify if there is any damage, diagnosing the type of infection by carrying out culture checks for bacterial and viral infections. They will prescribe antibiotics, which you will need to treat your dragon with as per the guidelines given by our vet. Never try and treat eye infection at home. Delaying treatment in your bearded dragon can spread to the other eye and result in a longer heal time and longer discomfort for your reptilian pet.
Parasites can result in swelling and tearing of the eye. Mites often find the area around the eye habitable, which can result in unwelcome problems for your bearded dragon including shedding problems and more. You can check around the eye and lid for mites, which are often black or red dots hiding around the eye. If there is discharge then treat it as infection. If there no discharge and you can see red or black dots, then treat your dragon for mites. This will require a complete enclosure clean.
If you have recently brought your bearded dragon home, they may have ticks. Ticks are very common in wild-caught reptiles, along with those that have been in direct or in-direct contact with a wild-caught reptile. The ticks often snuggle themselves near the eye. Take your dragon to the vet to have the tick safely and completely removed.
A tumor on the eye or in the eye can be cancerous, but it can also be a retained shed on the eye.
If the tumor is building upon the eyelid, then you could have a retained shed. Help your dragon with regular warm baths, where they can soak and hydrate and use cotton pads soaked in warm water and hold gently over the eye.
If the tumor remains or you can see a tumor in the eye of your dragon, then immediately veterinary care is needed. Cancerous tumors are not uncommon in these reptiles. In some cases, they can be successfully removed and put your dragon into remission.
How To Prevent Bearded Dragon Eye Problems
Prevention is always better than putting your bearded dragon through the discomfort. A proactive approach can prevent numerous eye issues, keeping your dragon happy and healthy.
- Create a clean environment with daily inspections and monthly cleans.
- Ensure you keep the substrate clean to reduce the risk of mites and parasites.
- Monitor temperature and humidity, ensuring you provide optimal conditions within the enclosure.
- Provide adequate light, including UV lighting which is essential in helping your dragon stay healthy and strong.
- Be selective when choosing substrates. Choose reptile carpets, tiles or shelf liners which have less particles, which could get into the eye and cause problems for your bearded dragon.
- Remove any sharp objects from the enclosure that could scratch or poke your dragon in the eye.
- Provide a healthy and varied diet along with vitamin supplements to ensure that any nutrient deficiencies are managed to reduce the risk of shedding issues.