Turtle Eye Infection

Turtle Eye Infection: Symptoms, Reasons, Solutions

Eye infection is one of the health risks pet turtles usually go through. And if left untreated, it can turn into serious health problems that affect your pet’s wellbeing.

The good thing is that these eye problems are curable if treated on time. The following article delves further into turtles’ most common eye problems, their symptoms, their causes, and how they can be treated.

Most common turtle eye infections:


The eyes of a turtle can help you know if your animal is in a healthy condition or is ailing inside.

When it comes to checking the eyes, you need to remember that there are two main types of turtle eye problems for aquatic turtles: swollen eyes or an eye infection.

Swollen eyes can make a turtle go blind permanently, making it hard for them to feed themselves. As a result, they may starve to death.

Most common turtle eye infections

Eye infections, on the other hand, are mostly caused by bacteria. The infection can occur on its own or in conjunction with swelling. This issue can become a serious infection in your pet’s respiratory tract if left untreated.

Let’s take a closer look at these two common eye problems in turtles.

Swollen eyes in turtles

You can easily tell if your pet turtle is suffering from this problem if its eyes are swollen, puffy, and even closed.

If your turtle only has one swollen eye, chances are high it suffers from a physical injury. This can be either self-inflicted or caused by poking by other turtles.

A sharp object inside the turtle tank may also have caused the injury.

Swollen eyes in turtles

But if both eyes are affected, there could be an underlying health issue, and you must take action quickly before things can get worse.

Poor quality water inside the tank can also cause the turtle’s eyes to swell. Higher chlorine concentrations, to be specific, is a common culprit for puffiness in turtle eyes.

Vitamin A deficiency, also known as hypovitaminosis A, is another possible cause of swollen eyes in these creatures. This issue is more common in young and semi-aquatic turtles as well as box turtles over 6 months.

If you’ve been feeding your pet a proper diet that contains all the essential nutrients, it could suffer from this eye problem.


The typical symptoms of swollen eyes in turtles include:

  • Eyelids appear puffier than normal
  • Turtle eyes may get shut and make the turtle blind in some severe cases of puffiness
  • Redness of conjunctiva and orbital glands
  • Liquid secretion may come out of your turtle eyes
  • Dead cells may gather around the animal’s eyes
  • The nose may be blocked as well


Turtle eyes are highly sensitive, and we advise you against trying to treat them on your own. The best bet is to take your pet to a professional reptile vet.

They will take your pet through a full body examination to uncover what could be ailing it.

Swollen eyes in turtles

If the Harderian glands are affected, the vet will go with vitamin A deficiency as the main cause behind the swollen eyes. In that case, the most likely treatment is to give the pet a Vitamin A dose and then give you advice on the proper diet to feed your pet.

If the diet isn’t the problem, a professional reptile vet will look for additional causes such as respiratory infection, sand that gets trapped in the eyelids, physical injury, and so on.

Also read: Why Is My Turtle Sleeping So Much?

What medicine can you use to treat swollen eyes in turtle?

You may want to treat your turtle at home. But even then, we advise you to consult your vet before administering any type of medicine to the turtle.

This way, you’re sure to give your little front the right medication. The vet may also prescribe better medication depending on your turtle’s sickness and its cause.

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Most turtle owners use eye drops to treat swollen eyes (remember to consult your vet first if you use this option).

What medicine can you use to treat swollen eyes in turtle

And before applying for this medicine, ensure it doesn’t contain steroids. Also, ensure your turtle stays dry for around 30 minutes after applying the medication.

Afterward, take the turtle back to its main tank or quarantine tank. Ensure they have clean water that’s safe for them.

How do you prevent swollen eyes in turtles?

If your turtle has suffered from this condition, you don’t want it to happen again. So, how do you stop it? Here are some preventative measures you can put in place:

How do you prevent swollen eyes in turtles

Give your pet a proper diet

Lack of vitamin A in your pet’s body can cause their eyes to swell, so ensure you give a proper diet containing all the essential nutrients.

Don’t stick to commercial pellets alone. Feed your turtle additional food types like leafy greens, fruits, mineral supplements, etc.

Keep the tank water clean

Keeping the water inside the tank clean can help prevent swollen eyes in turtles. Upgrading to a more powerful and efficient filter is one water to improve the water quality.

Lack of enough swimming space can also degrade the water quality inside your turtle’s tank. Performing frequent water changes will also help keep the water quality top-notch.

Ensure the water parameters stay at safe levels:

Ensure the chlorine quantity is at safe levels inside the turtle tank. Excessive amounts of this chemical can lead to turtle eye irritation.

Remove all injury hazards

Get rid of sharp objects inside the aquarium that risk injuring your turtle’s eyes. If you have all your turtles under one tank and they’re hostile to each other, consider separating them before they can harm each other.

Eye infection in turtles

Eye infections are an even more serious problem for these little pets and should be handled with care. The eye infection simply means an issue originating from the pet eye.

In some cases, the infection may have attacked other body parts only to manifest in your pet’s eyes later.

As we mentioned earlier, the main culprit behind eye infection is a wide range of bacteria, including Pseudomonas and Aeromonas.

Eye infection in turtles

If you have ruled out poor diet and physical injuries as the reason behind your turtle’s eye situation, then your turtle could be having a bacterial infection.

However, the only way to be sure is to visit a vet who will take the mucus from the turtle eye and take it through various tests to ascertain what’s behind the bacterial infection.

Dirty water may also cause eye infection as it harbors thousands of bacteria that may result in an infection.

NOTE: If you don’t get your turtle eye infection treated on time, it can lead to more serious health conditions like septicemia, which can ultimately kill your pet.


  • Reddening of the conjunctiva and all the tissues surrounding it
  • Swollen and water eyes
  • Wheezing
  • The turtle tries to scratch/rub its eyes frequently
  • Loss of balance during swimming
  • Frothing from the nose, mouth, and eyes

How to treat eye infection in turtles:

You can NOT cure an eye infection in your turtle by yourself. That leaves you with only one option—visiting a professional reptile vet.

Usually, the vet uses a systematic antibiotic to treat this issue.

When your turtle is undergoing treatment for this issue, there are a few things you need to do as a turtle owner. The most obvious is to keep your pet habitat’s water clean and fresh.

How to treat eye infection in turtles

You also want to ensure you provide your turtle with basic requirements such as a heat lamp and dedicated basking platform.

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If possible, consider having your pet in a quarantine tank until they get cured.

What medicine can you use to treat turtle eye infection at home?

You may consider using verified eye medicines to apply to your turtle eye at home. However, we still urge you to first consult your vet before administering any machine to your pet.

Also, ensure you use medicines that contain no steroids.

What medicine can you use to treat turtle eye infection at home

After the application, ensure your turtle stays dry for approximately 30 minutes before releasing them back into the water.

Unfortunately, you can’t treat your turtle using a systematic and proper antibiotic as it is only administered by an authorized veterinarian. So, the best way to treat this infection is to take your pet to the vet.

How to prevent eye infections in turtles?

They say prevention is always better than cure. You can take several measures to prevent pet turtle diseases that affect the eye.

How to prevent eye infections in turtles

These measures include:

  • Keep the water fresh and clean: Bacteria’s easiest way to your turtle’s body is through the water. Dirty water contains thousands of bad bacteria that can cause eye infections and other health problems in your pet. Keeping the turtle tank water fresh and clean will keep your turtle healthy.
  • Use a powerful and efficient filter: Equip your aquarium with a powerful filter that effectively removes ammonia, nitrite, and other harmful chemicals from the water to make the habitat healthy for your pets.
  • Frequent water changes: Perform particle (50%) water changes in your turtle tank every week. This is a sure way to balance the water parameter and prevent potential infection-causing agents.


1. How do you get rid of a swollen turtle’s eye?

You cannot get rid of a swollen turtle’s eye at home. Instead, we recommend you to visit a professional reptile vet who will diagnose your pet to find the root cause of the swollen eye and then treat the turtle with proper medication (based on the root cause).

2. How to distinguish between swollen eyes and eye infections in turtles?

You can distinguish between swollen eyes and eye infection in your turtle by looking for liquid secretion from the mouth and nose. If you see this symptom, your turtle is most likely suffering from a bacterial eye infection.

3. What does it mean if a turtle has red eyes?

If your turtle has red eyes, it is suffering from bloody eyes. This condition usually heals on its own. But it is also good to consult your vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

You should also consider cleaning your turtle’s tank and ensuring the water parameters are set up correctly to help with this situation.

Related: Worms In Turtle Tank

Final Word

So, that’s all you need to know about turtle eye problems. Turtles’ two most common eye diseases include swelling eyes and bacteria eye infection. Thankfully, both types of illness can be treated if you take action early and prevent them from getting into more serious health problems that engager the life of your pet.

We have shared all the information you need about these turtle eye problems, including the causes, symptoms to look out for, and available treatment options. We hope this article leaves you in a better position to help you turtle if it suffers from eye problems.

Turtle Eye Infection

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