My Turtle’s Eyes Won’t Open: What To Do?

My Turtle’s Eyes Won't Open

Are your turtle’s eyes closed? Can’t he open his eyes? You need to read this article thoroughly to find out what to do in this kind of situation.

Turtles can’t open their eyes mainly because of vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A deficiency can result in turtle not being able to open its eyes, swollen eyes, puffy eyes, etc.

If a turtle can’t open its eyes, many things can be responsible for this tragic condition. I’ll try to explain the most common ones throughout this article.

Turtle swollen eyes:

Turtle swollen eyes is generally the result of a deficiency of vitamin A or poor water quality. Most of the time, lack of vitamin A and poor diet is the main reason.

There is no possible way to diagnose turtle swollen eyes all by yourself. You need to seek the help of a professional vet. The vet will check for possible causes of the puffiness. If the Harderian gland of the turtle shows signs of puffiness, then chances are that lack of vitamin A is the real culprit.

If you need to contact with a turtle vet emergency, check out our Emergency Turtle Vet Directory where you can easily contact with a turtle vet from your state.

Otherwise, poor water quality is also a common reason for swollen turtle eyes. In this case, bacteria travel from the water inside to the turtle’s body and cause a serious health issue.

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  • The eyelids will get swollen or puffy
  • The eye can get reddish
  • If left untreated for a long period of time, the eyelids can get so swollen that the turtle will get blind.
  • You’ll often see fluid secreting from the eyes. Also, dead cells can gather around the eyes.
  • The nose can get blocked.
  • The turtle will lose weight alarmingly.


  • Lack of vitamin A
  • Poor water quality


  • If lack of vitamin A is the main reason, then the vet may dose the turtle with a vitamin A dose. There are also other options to go for such as: feeding vitamin A enrich goods, providing a balanced nutrition, feeding puree of carrots etc.
  • If the water quality is poor, then the vet will prescribe a systematic antibiotic which will cure the bacterial infection. In this case, it is better to keep the sick turtle in a quarantine tank until he is fully recovered.
  • You can use Zoo Med’s turtle eye drops. They are really safe and effective. Follow the instructions on the label of the package.

Preventive Measures:

  • Ensure that your turtle is getting a nutrient-rich diet which is diverse and consists of a full nutritional profile.
  • Feed foods that are enriched in vitamin A such as carrots, squash etc. puree of carrot is an excellent home remedy to cure turtle swollen eyes.
  • Make sure the tank has every basic item that a turtle must need for healthy growth such as a basking area, UVB light, heat lamp, powerful filter, fresh water etc.
  • Always keep the turtle tank water clean. Go for a highly efficient powerful canister filter such as the Aquatop CF500YV filter. Make sure the filter can cope up with the load of the tank.
  • Ensure that there is enough space inside the tank for the turtle. A general rule of thumb is, for every 1-inch shell length, you’ll need about 10 gallons water. So, if your turtle has a shell length of 5 inches, you’ll at least need a 50-gallon tank.
  • You can use Zoo Med water conditioner to make the water absolutely safe for your turtles.

Turtle Eye Infections:

This is another common turtle eye disease. Eye infections are generally caused by bacteria. The bacteria can come from the poor water of the tank or from another infected organ inside the turtle body such as infection from the respiratory tract.

In the case of eye infection, the vet will prescribe a systematic antibiotic. Don’t try to do anything on your own. Eye infections can get very serious if left untreated for a long period of time. So, whenever you see signs of eye infection on your turtle, ask the help of a vet immediately.


  • The conjunctiva, as well as the adjacent area, will get reddish
  • The eye can get puffy
  • Watery eyes
  • The turtle will often try to rub its eyes or scratch them
  • Lots of wheezing, losing balance while swimming
  • Fluid secretion from mouth as well as nose
  • Excessive weight loss


  • Bacteria originated from the poor condition of the tank water


  • It is not possible to treat turtle eye infection on your own if you are an average turtle keeper. So, you need to seek the help of a reptile vet immediately.
  • The vet will examine the turtle thoroughly and try to diagnose the cause of the infection. Depending on the cause, the vet will prescribe the necessary medications.
  • In most cases, vets prescribe a systematic antibiotic for curing turtle eye infection.
  • You can try other products like zoo med’s turtle eye drops to help cure the infection. But ask the approval of your vet first.

Preventive measures:

  • Poor water quality is the number one reason for turtle eye infection. So, you need to give immediate attention to improving the water quality of your turtle tank.
  • If the tank is not suitable according to your turtle’s size, get a bigger one. If the tank is small, there is nothing you can do to keep the water quality decent. So, the first thing you should do is get a proper size tank for your turtle.
  • The second thing to look out for is the filtration system of the tank. If the filtration system is poor, then the water will get dirty very quickly. So, you need to choose a filter that fully cope up with the load of the turtle. Turtles are very messy animals. They produce a lot of waste than other aquarium inhabitants such as fish. So, you need to get a filter that is very powerful. I always recommend getting a powerful canister filter for a turtle tank.
  • You can use Zoo med’s water conditioner which is specifically made for reptiles. It will help to keep the water safe for your turtles.

Additional Tips:

  • Always ensure that your turtle has everything it needs for leading a healthy life. The most basic requirements for a turtle tank is a spacious tank, a powerful filter, a sturdy basking place, a heat lamp, a UVB bulb and some hiding place.
  • Poor diet leads to a poor immune system which leads to various types of turtle eye diseases. So, ensure that you are giving a proper diet to your turtle. Only giving a commercial turtle pellet is not enough at all. You’ll also need to provide fresh leafy vegetables as well as other proteins such as cooked chicken, fish, insects etc.
  • You should also provide a calcium block to your turtle. Calcium helps to make the shell and the bone stronger. It is also necessary for the proper growth of your turtle.
  • Here on my Recommendations Page, I’ve talked about all the turtle products that I love and stand by! So, if you are looking for the best products for your turtle, have a look at my Recommendations page.

So, this is my detailed guide on what to do if your turtle can’t open its eyes. Basically, you’ll have to ask the help of a vet immediately as there is nothing you can do to help him on your own.

You need to follow the instructions of the vet precisely as well as apply medications to your turtle as prescribed. Hopefully, within a week or two, your turtle will get well and be able to open its eyes again!

Let me know if you have any question in the comment box below!

My Top 3 Turtle Products To Make Your Life Easier (And Your Turtles Happier)

1. Fluval FX6 Canister Filter

Turtles are quite messy creatures. And you need a powerful weapon to cope up with the mess. Fluval FX6 is a giant beast equipped with multi-stage filtration system. Fluval FX6 is my #1 recommendation to keep your turtle tank cleaner & healthier.

2. Penn Plax Turtle Topper

If you are keeping a turtle, you’ll need a basking place. The good thing about Penn Plax Turtle Topper is, it won’t use any space inside the tank, so your turtle can enjoy the full swimming space. The design and functionality make this basking dock my top recommendation!

3. Zoo Med UVB & Heat Lighting Kit

This one kit will solve all your lighting needs for the turtle. You’ll get everything you’ll need including Polished aluminum dome, dual ceramic sockets and two lights: ReptiSun UVB Light (for UVB) & Repti Tuff Halogen Lamp (for Heat). Zoo Med UVB & Heat Lighting Kit will slash half of your burden!  

Muntaseer Rahman

I have been keeping turtles as a pet for many years now. I’ve fallen in love with these cute pets from the moment I saw them. That’s why I am writing articles to share my turtle keeping knowledge with you.

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