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Bearded Dragon Eye Problems: Droopy, Sunken, Bulging, More

Has your pet bearded dragon been experiencing eye problems?

These lizards are generally quite tough, but they are somewhat susceptible to specific health issues, including eye problems.

Let’s review the most common eye problems found in bearded dragons. 

We will discuss the causes, symptoms, treatment, and preventative measures for each listed condition.

bearded dragon eye problems 1

Bearded Dragon Bulging Eyes

Bulging eyes are a common concern for many bearded dragon owners. 

If you own this type of lizard, you will most likely observe its eyes bulging at some point in time.

In most cases, eye-bulging is nothing to worry about. 

Eye bulging in bearded dragons is a natural occurrence the lizards perform on their own.

Although there is no way to be sure why beardies force their eyes to bulge out, it is believed they do this to help the skin around their eyes shed.

Shedding

Bearded dragons shed at different frequencies throughout their lives. 

Dragons under six months in age will shed every few weeks. 

Between six months and one year, a dragon will shed every couple of months. 

Once a dragon has surpassed 1.5 years in age and is fully grown, it will shed even less often. 

Adult beardies will only shed a few times per year.

Since shedding will always be a part of your dragon’s life, it is essential to learn how to tell your pet is going to shed and what you can do to assist it in this process.

While your dragon is shedding and its eyes have bulged, it is essential to let them be. 

The best thing for you to do is ensure their tank is clean and the humidity levels are monitored appropriately. 

The relative humidity level in your beardie’s tank should fall between 30% and 40%. 

This simulates the humidity levels in their natural environment and allows them to stay healthy and shed their skin quickly.

If you notice a skin build-up around the eyes, soak a cotton ball or reusable cotton pad with warm water. 

Next, gently place the warm cotton over the eye and hold it there. 

This moisture will help to remove the excess skin which has built up.

Do not use any force, and avoid constant rubbing of the eyes. 

If the skin is not budging with warm cotton, it may not be ready to shed. 

The eyes are a sensitive part of the body, and you do not want to irritate or damage them in any way.

If your dragon is bulging its eyes for an excessive period of several days, be sure to take your pet to see a reptile vet. 

Although bulging eyes are almost always a sign of shedding, it is best to consult with a medical professional if the condition continues or occurs when your lizard is not shedding.

If your pet isn’t shedding and it’s becoming concerning, we have a post on why bearded dragons won’t shed that will be helpful to you.

Summary

  • Causes
    • Bearded dragons will bulge their eyes to loosen the skin for an easier shedding process.
  • Symptoms
    • The eyes will appear larger and as if they are popping out of your dragon’s head. They may seem swollen or excessively large.
  • Treatment
    • This is a natural process, and there is no treatment necessary. If your beardie seems to have a hard time shedding, be sure to check the humidity levels and hold a warm compress over the eyes to remove excess skin.
  • Prevention
    • Since bearded dragons naturally bulge their eyes, it will most likely occur no matter what. Although you are not able to prevent eye-bulging, keep the tank clean and humidity levels between 30% and 40%.

Bearded Dragon Swollen Eyes

Swollen eyes may occur in a bearded dragon for many reasons. 

One common cause for swollen eyes is eye bulging’s natural process in the previous section.

If you notice your dragon’s eyes appear swollen during its shedding period, your pet is likely bulging its eyes to stretch the skin or experiencing excess skin build-up. 

Refer to the previous section for more information on detecting this and what steps to take.

Swollen eyes are a warning sign for various other health issues in these lizards. 

Hypervitaminosis A, injury, clogged tear ducts, infection, and tumors are all possible causes for swollen eyes in this reptile.

Hypervitaminosis A

Hypervitaminosis A, also known as vitamin A toxicity, occurs when too much vitamin A is present in the body. 

Dragons are sensitive to experiencing an overdose of vitamin A.

Since this vitamin contributes to eye health, organ health, and an overall healthy immune system, it is an integral part of the diet. 

However, too much of this nutrient may cause eye problems, such as swollen eyes.

As long as you are not supplementing your bearded dragon’s diet with vitamin A, you will most likely not overdose on it with this vitamin. 

Be aware of common foods high in vitamin A, and appropriately provide them to your dragon.

Injury

Injury to the eye is another possible cause of swollen eyes. 

If your dragon has sustained a scratch or injury to its eye, it may be swollen as a result and too painful for the animal to open.

And if you’re mostly experiencing your pet not opening the eye, we have a dedicated post on why bearded dragons won’t open their eyes that covers this specific problem you may want to read.

Common causes of eye injury include:

  • Bad substrate.
  • Contact with a sharp object.
  • Neglecting to remove uneaten live food from the tank.

If you place a loose substrate in your beardie’s tank, it may break down into tiny particles. 

Small particles such as dust or sand may enter your beardie’s eye, irritating it or scratching the cornea.

Eye drops are essential if you believe your dragon suffers from foreign objects invading its eyes. 

Reptile eye drops are available for purchase at your local pet store or online platforms.

Once you have your eye drops or a simple saline solution safe for reptiles, flush out your beardie’s eyes to alleviate the swelling.

Failing to remove uneaten live insects is another possible cause of eye injury. 

Be sure to remove any leftover crickets, grasshoppers, etc., from the tank after approximately 20 minutes of feeding time. 

If the insects are left to roam in the tank, they may attack your dragon, damaging its eyes in the process.

If you suspect this to cause swollen eyes, take your pet to the reptile veterinarian immediately for an examination.

Infection

An eye infection is another possible cause of swollen or puffy eyes. 

If your dragon has experienced some trauma to its eye, resulting in an open wound or scratch on the cornea, it may develop an eye infection.

The general term “infection” is a blanket statement for many possible issues affecting your pet’s eyes.

An eye infection may also result from parasites such as mites living in and around your beardie’s eyes. 

We will go more in-depth regarding mites in a later section, but it is important to note the warning signs of parasites include tiny black and red dots around the eye or on the eyelid.

A clogged tear duct may also be the cause of swollen eyes. 

You will need a diagnosis from your vet to conclude an issue with the tear duct is the cause of this swelling.

Swollen eyes may also result from a bacterial infection or fungal infection in the dragon. 

If you suspect your pet is suffering from a bacterial or fungal infection, it is important to seek medical attention. 

Be sure to obtain the appropriate antibiotics for your dragon. 

Do not attempt to cure your pet at home without any medical advice.

An unsanitary enclosure most likely causes this type of infection. 

It is essential to clean your reptile’s tank regularly to prevent such an issue.

Tumors

Tumors are another possible cause of swollen eyes in your beardie. 

If you notice your dragon has a growth on or around its eye, causing it to swell, you will need to take your pet to the vet for further examination.

Growth is not always a cancerous tumor. 

In some cases, the “tumor” you noticed may be a skin deposit resulting from an unsuccessful shed. 

In these cases, removing the excess skin with warm baths and holding a warm cotton ball over the eye is possible. 

With the repetition of these methods, the swelling should subside. 

If it does not go away, the growth may not be as simple as a skin deposit.

When an eye tumor is present on your reptile’s eye, it may be possible to remove the growth and place the animal into remission. 

If you fear your dragon has a tumor anywhere on its body, it is pertinent to seek medical advice from a licensed professional.

Summary

  • Causes
    • Swollen eyes may result from several issues, including hypervitaminosis A, injury, clogged tear ducts, infection, excess skin, and tumors.
  • Symptoms
    • Symptoms of these conditions vary, with swelling of the eyes being a commonality between them.
  • Treatment
    • Depending on the cause of the swelling, the treatment for this condition may vary. In some cases, a warm compress or flushing out the eyes will do the trick. For more serious conditions, antibacterial drops, eye ointment, or surgery may be required.
  • Prevention
    • The best way to prevent swollen eyes is to monitor your dragon’s intake of essential vitamins and minerals, keep its enclosure clean and free of roaming insects, supply it with a reliable and safe substrate, and do your best to aid in the shedding process.
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Bearded Dragon Droopy Eyes

If your pet dragon is experiencing droopy eyes, several factors may play a role.

First, you need to rule out the possibility your dragon has naturally droopy eyes. 

Some of these lizards’ genetics cause their eyes to droop down slightly. 

If your lizard has always had droopy eyes, you are probably able to rule out any illness and chalk it up to genetics.

If you know your beardie’s eyes are not naturally drooping and they begin to resemble a bloodhound’s eyes, you will need to consider a few different causes for this condition.

Dehydration

Dehydration is one of the possible causes of drooping dragon eyes. 

Besides the change in the way the eyes sit, there are several other symptoms of dehydration. 

These include wrinkly skin, lethargy, lack of appetite, and sunken or droopy eyes.

If you suspect your beardie is dehydrated, be sure to give it regular baths in warm water. 

Some bearded dragons do not drink from their water bowl, as they are generally attracted to moving water in the wild. 

If you notice your lizard is not drinking water from its bowl, consider placing a water feeder in its tank and agitating the water in the bowl. 

You may also consider placing drops of water in your pet’s mouth to get its hydration levels back up.

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is another cause of drooping eyes in bearded dragons. 

These reptiles are susceptible to kidney disease at any age, and there are several warning signs and symptoms to look out for.

If your bearded dragon’s eyes begin to droop, if it is experiencing lethargy, and if it has a lack of appetite, your pet may be experiencing a kidney issue.

While it is sometimes challenging to identify kidney disease in bearded dragons, this condition is often caused by prolonged dehydration, a vitamin A deficiency, poor diet, and improper humidity levels. 

To prevent kidney disease in your reptile, do your absolute best to monitor and control these possible causes.

If you suspect your dragon is suffering from kidney disease or is at risk of developing this condition, take it to the vet for professional advice on what to do to stop the progression.

Vitamin A Deficiency

Vitamin deficiency is another factor that causes droopy eyes in bearded dragons. 

Vitamin A is a vital nutrient for most animals. 

These reptiles rely on this vitamin but are also somewhat sensitive to it. 

They are at risk of developing eye issues from vitamin deficiency and overdose.

As discussed previously, an excess of vitamin A will cause these animals to develop swollen or puffy eyes. 

A lack of vitamin A will have the opposite effect on the animals, causing their eyes to droop.

A long-term deficiency of vitamin A will undoubtedly cause vision problems for these lizards. 

Since vitamin A plays a role in overall organ health, a deficiency of this vitamin will also lead to kidney disease.

It is essential to note that droopy eyes are a symptom of vitamin A deficiency and kidney disease, and a lack of vitamin A is a common cause of kidney issues.

The best way to ensure your dragon does not suffer from vitamin A deficiency, also referred to as hypovitaminosis A, is by feeding it foods high in this nutrient.

Foods safe for beardies to eat and high in vitamin A include: 

  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes 
  • Kale
  • Collard greens 
  • Turnip greens

Summary

  • Causes
    • Common causes for droopy eyes include genetics, dehydration, vitamin A deficiency, and kidney disease.
  • Symptoms
    • The overarching symptom of all of these conditions is drooping eyes. If your beardie’s eyes do not naturally droop, you will want to deduce which of the listed causes are contributing to the sudden change.
  • Treatment
    • Once you have figured out what is causing your dragon’s eyes to droop, you are able to begin treatment. If your beardie is dehydrated, be sure to bathe it more regularly and figure out how to get your pet to drink the water it is provided. Consider vitamin supplements if you believe your dragon lacks vitamin A and refuses the foods high in this nutrient. If it is suffering from kidney disease, you will need to seek medical advice on how to proceed with treatment.
  • Prevention
    • The best way to prevent these health issues is monitoring your lizard’s water intake, ensuring you are feeding it a varied diet high in the essential vitamins and minerals it needs, and correcting issues such as dehydration and vitamin deficiency before they have the chance to develop into a more serious condition.
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Bearded Dragon Sunken Eyes

Sunken eyes are another common eye issue prevalent in bearded dragons.

In most cases, sunken eyes are a symptom of dehydration. 

If you notice your pet’s eyes appear to be sunken into its head more than usual, you should look for other warning signs of dehydration.

Dehydration is a cause of numerous eye issues, including droopy eyes and sunken eyes. 

If you notice a change in your beardie’s eyes, take your examination a bit further. 

The skin of a dragon is another excellent indicator of its hydration levels.

If the skin is wrinkled, this may be a sign of dehydration. 

A good test for this is lightly pinching the loose skin. 

If the skin does not snap back into place immediately, your dragon is most likely in need of water.

Behavioral changes are also indicators of dehydration. 

If you notice your dragon is very lethargic and lacks appetite, it may be craving water.

The best way to ensure your lizard stays hydrated is by placing it in a warm bath a few times per week (consider providing a bath or swimming time every other day for about 20 minutes). 

Also, be sure your dragon is drinking its water, and do your best to implement an agitation system so the water is running instead of still.

Summary

  • Causes
    • Sunken eyes are caused by dehydration.
  • Symptoms
    • Other than the eyes appearing to be more inset than usual, you will want to look for changes in the skin and behavior.
  • Treatment
    • Help your dragon absorb water through its skin and keep fresh water in its tank every day.
  • Prevention
    • The best way to prevent dehydration is monitoring your lizard’s water intake and providing it with swimming time or a bath several times per week.
bearded dragon eye problems 3

Bearded Dragon Parasites

Unfortunately, parasites are among the most common bearded dragon illnesses. 

There are many types of parasites beardies are susceptible to, including intestinal parasites and mites.

Mites are tiny parasitic creatures that live off of a host animal. 

Mites are the type of parasite which cause eye problems in lizards. 

These mites often occur when reptile owners fail to keep their substrate clean.

If your beardie is experiencing any eye problems, you will want to check your dragon for mites. 

This is easily done by examining the eyelid and the area around the eye. 

You will want to look for tiny black or red dots. 

These dots are the mites that have burrowed into your pet’s skin.

Eye Crust

Mites are carriers of viruses and bacteria, which are causes of bearded dragon eye problems. 

A common eye problem is a conjunctivitis. 

Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the eye caused by bacteria or viruses.

Symptoms of this condition are watery or crusted eyes. 

If your lizard’s eyes are crusted or produce discharge, this is a sign of infection. 

You will need to consult with your vet to obtain the appropriate dragon antibiotics to treat the infection.

Watery Eyes

Watery eyes are another warning sign of mites. 

Conjunctivitis from mites will cause your pet’s eyes to water and possibly crust over.

Watering eyes could also indicate the presence of a foreign object like a loose substrate. 

You will want to flush out the eyes with a saline eyewash to remove loose substrate particles.

If this does not stop the watering, take your lizard to the vet, as it may need antibiotics.

Summary

  • Causes
    • Mites are usually caused by an unsanitary enclosure.
  • Symptoms
    • Symptoms of parasites in the eye include tiny black or red dots, watery eyes, and eye crust or discharge.
  • Treatment
    • Treatment for mites often entails some form of antibiotics or ointment provided by your vet.
  • Prevention
    • The best way to prevent mites is by cleaning the enclosure regularly and paying close attention to your beardie’s eyes.

Final Thoughts

To keep your bearded dragon happy, you will need to do your best to keep it healthy. 

Look out for warning signs of eye problems, as they are common in bearded dragons.

Some healthy practices to keep in mind are keeping your beardie hydrated with plenty of baths, cleaning its enclosure regularly, providing it with a balanced diet, and keeping tank conditions at optimal levels.

If your beardie is experiencing any eye problems we have reviewed, or you suspect there is something wrong with its eyes, it is best to seek medical attention immediately. 

Eye problems are severe and could lead to irreversible damage if not tended to promptly.