Turtle Eye Infection: Causes, Prevention and Treatment

Turtle Eye Infection

Like all other animals, eye problems are also very common in turtles. One of the common turtle eye infections is swelling in their eyes. The reason behind this could be their living condition not being proper. Improper food and the dirty water they live in are among the most common cause of eye problems to your turtle. To reduce the risk of eye infections, these two should be avoided. 

Aquatic turtles and box turtles have more risk of developing ear abscesses. This can also cause a severe eye infection and swelling, which can be very dangerous for the turtle if it is not dealt with. Another common reason for eye infection in turtles is bacterial growth in tank water. It could be because of dirty water or an inefficient filter. 

There are several ways to treat these eye infections, but one must keep in mind that “prevention is better than cure.” This article will discuss everything about turtle eye infection and how one can treat it at home.

Related Article: Turtle Shell Rot Vs Shedding

What causes eye infection in turtles?

Eye infections for turtles are a prevalent ailment among the list of conditions that they may suffer in a lifetime. Swollen Eyes are the most common turtle eye infection you will encounter. As mentioned previously, one of the sole causes behind this is their improper habitat. 

Below are some environmental factors which cause a turtle to develop an eye infection.

  • Turtles are hardy, rough, and tough animals; therefore, they can live almost anywhere, even if it is a dirty place. The contaminated water in the tanks causes their eyes to swell due to bacterial attacks.  
  • Turtle poops, if not filtered out for long, will release harmful chemicals that may cause the turtle to develop eye irritation.
  • To make turtle tanks attractive, people tend to put rocks, heat lamps, and other tank decors. Too much closeness to such stuff results in eye irritation of the turtles.
  • Then comes another culprit that is Sand. Avoid keeping your turtles on Sand or filling Sand as a substrate in the turtle tank. There are high possibilities for sand particles to cause eye injuries or irritation to turtles.
  • Inappropriate basking setup also stimulates the risk of diseases for these reptiles.

Dietary and medical factors responsible for eye infections in turtles.

  • If turtles do not get proper food, their body starts losing out on essential minerals and vitamins. This happens due to the inappropriate diet routine. Hence turtles become more prone to diseases like eye infections, ear abscesses, respiratory diseases, Ulcerative shells commonly known as rotten shells, etc.
  • Improper nutrition in turtles causes vitamin A deficiency in them. Turtles can then be seen suffering from bacterial eye infections, swelling in the eyes, and other eye irritations. The gradual breakdown of epithelial tissues due to their body deficient in specific vitamins makes them more open to swollen shut eyes.

Signs of turtle eye infections

The primary signs that will let you know whether your turtle is suffering from eye infection or swollen eyes are as follows:

  • The eyelids of the turtles appear more inflated and bloated than usual.
  • They happen to have runny eyes, i.e., it appears as if they are crying.
  • When turtles have swollen eyes, they keep rubbing the eyes due to the irritation caused. 
  • A lot of cloudiness and excessive discharge from the eyes of the turtle can be counted as a definite symptom of eye infection.
  • Persistence of blocked nose.
  • In a more severe condition, they can have swollen shut eyes.
  • If a turtle is suffering from bacterial infections, it can be seen having a large amount of nasal discharge and gaping its mouth for air.
  • Reddening the eye near the perimeters is also a sign of them suffering from bacterial infections.

Home remedies for turtle eye infection

As pet owners, every person would want their turtles to get the best treatment. Since a significant cause of the turtle’s eye infection is a result of irregularity in diet and unhealthy living areas, the best home remedy that can be undertaken is proper maintenance of these two factors.

Changing the water of tanks regularly

One must ensure that the turtle tanks are clean and hygienic, and free from all harmful elements that may stimulate bacterial growth inside the tanks. It is usually suggested that tank water is changed regularly to circumvent these diseases.

Turtle tanks must be of adequate size

The tank in which turtles live must be sufficient to live comfortably without congestion. If the turtle tank is too small for your turtle, it will not bask properly, leading to many diseases, including eye infection.

Maintaining a proper diet

A balanced diet is essential for your turtle since their body needs essential vitamins and minerals for healthy living. Unhealthy or improper diets may lead to their body being deficient in minerals like calcium and phosphorus. A turtle’s health will then deteriorate, and immunity will also go low.

Using a de-chlorinator

Another underlying cause is the chlorinated water in tanks. The water in the turtle tanks which you think is safe is often chlorinated. The chlorine presence in tank water irritates a turtle’s eye. In that case, it is usually advised to use a good de-chlorinator. A de-chlorinator will absorb the excess chlorine and chloramine from the tank water. To get best de-chlorinator read our article Best Water Conditioner For Turtles.

Canister filters for hygiene

Apart from all these preventive remedies, you can also use canister filters to maintain clean water in your turtle tanks. These filters are powerful enough to filter out turtle poop and leftover foods from the tank making water clean. The canister filter comes with three-stage filtration and treats water to remove harmful chemicals. For knowing the best filter for your turtle tank, check out our article.

Consulting a vet for the best treatment

These home remedies work very well if the infections or diseases are fundamental. Therefore it is suggested to consult a veterinarian besides following these home remedies to avoid mishaps in the future. When the symptoms are very gross, like reddening the eye and excessive water discharge, one must immediately take their turtles to a veterinary surgeon.

If whiteness is in its eye, one must immediately refer to a vet surgeon. Sometimes one even needs to be ready with topical medications and injectable antibiotics. In the case of Swollen Shut Eyes, take the turtle to a doctor without a second thought. There are even chances for a turtle to go blind in such situations

Can you use human eye drops on turtles?

Turtle eyes are a lot more different than humans; therefore, it is not safe to use human eye drops on them. It will not be effective on them. Turtles being reptiles have different eyes with different features; hence human eye drops are not adequate to cure their type of eye infections.

Recommended turtle eye drops

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Nature Zone Turtle Eye Drops $9.87 Buy on Amazon
Zoo Med Repti Turtle Eye Drops $3.79 Buy on Amazon


Turtles are very delicate, and an unhygienic tank environment could badly affect their health. Eye infection is one such common problem in turtles due to dirty water. Though there is no home remedy for treating turtle eye infections, there are ways to prevent such conditions. One must maintain proper hygiene and sanitization to make it easy to live comfortably in their tank. In case of severe eye infections, consult a veterinarian as your turtle may need immediate medical help.