Red-Eared Slider Swollen Eyes

Inflamed and swollen eyes are common in captive red-eared sliders. These particular turtle species are susceptible to this irritating and life-threatening condition.

If you have suddenly noticed your red-eared slider’s eyes are swollen, then continue reading to find out the symptoms, causes, treatments, and preventative measures you can take when it comes to swollen eyes in a red-eared slider.


The majority of eye problems in red-eared sliders start with the eyes displaying very slight puffing.

Both fungal and bacterial infections, along with Vitamin A deficiency can cause the tissue inside and around the eye to degrade, this means any debris is collected on the eye rim and under the lid.

The pressure can cause irritation and the tear ducts will swell.

Red-Eared Slider Swollen Eyes
Swollen eyes in a red-eared slider turtle. Image by Trish Ridgeway Espejo

Most red-eared slider owners first notice a problem when their pet starts pawing at its eyes but behaves normally in all other aspects. As the swelling increases, the eyes may not open at all.

No matter what the cause of the problem was, an infection will usually take over rather quickly, which can lead to lethargy and lack of appetite.


There are a number of causes for swollen eyes in red-eared sliders, these include:

Vitamin A Deficiency

Red-eared sliders usually begin as carnivores and then later turn to a more plant-based diet.

When they are juveniles, they will not eat greens which are rich in Vitamin A. In fact, juveniles prefer a carnivorous diet to when they are adults.

Vitamin A rich greens should be introduced into the pet’s diet as early as possible. Vitamin A deficiency, very common in these turtles, will result in swollen eyes.

Eye Infection

Poor quality water is another cause of swollen eyes in red-eared sliders.

Aquatic turtles tend to be very messy eaters, which means the water is often contaminated with waste products, feces, and leftover foods, which welcomes dangerous bacteria. These bacteria can get into the eye.

Red-eared sliders with Vitamin A deficiencies are also more likely to develop eye infections.


A red-eared slider that is dehydrated will have swollen eyes. Remember that your pet loses a lot of water through its eye tissues. If your turtle is healthy, then dehydration shouldn’t be a concern.


Your pet’s eyes can become swollen if it has experienced eye trauma recently. This could be an accessory in the enclosure that has poked the eye or it has been in a fight with another turtle.



The first step to treating swollen eyes in red-eared sliders is to have a close look at their diet to ensure that your pet isn’t suffering from a Vitamin A deficiency.

If you catch the problem early, changing the diet can stop and even reverse the early stages of Vitamin A deficiency.

If the condition is advanced, your vet will provide Vitamin A injections.


Supplementing your pet’s food with a Vitamin A supplement can help it get the necessary vitamins it needs. This can be used in the early stages, combined with a change in diet.

Clean enclosure

When you first notice your pet has swollen eyes, your first step should be to remove it from its tank and thorough clean the tank. You want to ensure that the tank is disinfected, all accessories are soaked and cleaned and you provide fresh filtered water.

Temp and Humidity

Ensure your temperatures and humidity are at optimum, making any necessary changes as needed.

Water temperature77ºF – 82ºF
Basking area90ºF – 95ºF



Introduce collard greens, dandelion, and kale to your pet’s diet, these are excellent sources of Vitamin A, which can help prevent the risk of swollen eyes.

You can introduce turtle pellets from top brand names that have added vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A, such as the Zoo Med Natural Aquatic Turtle Food.

The pellets are scientifically formulated to meet the dietary needs of your pet. They float for easier feeding.


Filtration is very important to ensure that the water stays in good quality. A good filter attached to the tank can help to keep water aerated and clean, removing any bacteria and dirt from the water.

Clean Tank

Keeping your red-eared sliders tank clean is a very important step to keeping your pet free from swollen eyes and infection.

Water should be checked daily and replaced if needed to reduce the risk of harboring dangerous bacteria. Even when the swimming water looks fine, it is still dirty with nitrites and ammonia.

Every second week, you want to do a thorough tank clean, washing, scrubbing, and disinfecting.

Temperature and Humidity

Use digital hygrometers and digital thermometers to ensure your water temperature, basking temperature, and humidity levels remain at optimum. This will help your pet remain comfortable and healthy.


The good news is that while red-eared slider turtles are prone to swollen eyes, there are a number of things you can do to prevent it.

Ensure you provide a clean habitat with optimum temperatures and humidity with a well-balanced diet that is full of Vitamin A.

2 thoughts on “Red-Eared Slider Swollen Eyes”

  1. My little red eared turtle is suffering with swollen eyes. I have tried all that I can do but still it’s not feeding since last 4- 5 days. Pl suggest how to treat and make it comfortable.

  2. carlos valdez

    My turtle “Mammis” has had swollen eyes for the past couple of days. It doesn’t want to eat and doesn’t even bask. It’s so sad, all it does is stay in the bottom of the tank. While my other two, “Big Pappis” & “Lil Dude” sort of surround her. Like there protecting her. She’s also shedding a lot. Im gonna do a thorough cleaning of the tank and change their diet some. I’ll keep you guys posted.

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