Turtle Swollen Eyes Home Remedy: Everything You Need To Know

Turtle Swollen Eyes Home Remedy

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Sharing is caring!

Swollen eyes is a very common health issue for pet turtles. In this article, I am going to discuss turtle swollen eyes home remedies. So, let’s get started.

Swollen eyes in turtles are often caused by vitamin A deficiency, poor water quality, or infections. Solutions include improving diet with vitamin A-rich foods, maintaining clean water, and consulting a vet for possible antibiotic treatment.

key takeaways

  • Turtle swollen eyes are commonly caused by vitamin A deficiency or poor water quality.
  • Immediate veterinary consultation is recommended for turtles with swollen eyes.
  • Vitamin A injections and a nutrient-rich diet may be prescribed for vitamin A deficiency.
  • Systematic antibiotics are used if bacterial infection from poor water quality is the cause.
  • A diverse diet with commercial pellets, green leafy vegetables, calcium supplements, and occasional fruits is vital for turtles.
  • For turtles with swollen eyes, a quarantine tank is recommended to prevent spreading infection to healthy turtles.
  • Regular water changes and a powerful filter are essential to maintain water quality in the turtle’s tank.

What is actually swollen eyes?

Swollen eyes is actually a very common eye disease for turtles. If your turtle is suffering from this disease, it needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Otherwise, this health issue may lead to the permanent blinding of the turtle.

There are two main causes of turtle swollen eyes: vitamin A deficiency and poor water quality.

Here is a table listing potential causes of swollen eyes in turtles and their symptoms:

Vitamin A deficiencyCloudy appearance, swollen eyelids, inability to open eyes
InfectionConjunctivitis (pink eye) – Redness, discharge from one or both eyes
InjurySwelling or bruising around one or both eyes, possible bleeding or abrasions
Poor water qualityCloudy eyes, redness, swelling linked to ammonia, nitrites from unclean water
Ear/sinus infectionSwelling or discharge near eyes

Home Remedies for turtle swollen eyes:

As I have said, there are basically two main reasons for turtle swollen eyes: vitamin A deficiency and poor water quality. If your turtle is already suffering from swollen eyes, then there is little you can do on your own as an average turtle owner.

You need to seek the help of a professional reptile vet immediately. The vet will closely examine your turtle and try to find out the root cause of the problem. Depending on that, the vet will prescribe medicines for your turtle.

Click here to get our Emergency Turtle Vet Directory if you need to find a turlte vet!

If the Harderian gland of the turtle shows signs of swelling, then you can be pretty much sure that the cause is vitamin A deficiency.

In such a case, the vet may inject a dose of vitamin A if the condition is severe. He may also suggest you a nutrition rich diet for the turtle.

If that is not the case, then the bacterial infection may cause the swelling. Poor water quality is mainly responsible for that. If the water stinks, there are likely thousands of bacteria in it which can cause severe health issue to your turtle.

Also, bacteria can easily move inside the body from organ to organ. So, it can also spread from other organs like an infection of the respiratory tract. If bacterial infection is the case, the vet will prescribe a systematic antibiotic to kill all the bacteria inside the turtle.

Here is a table outlining treatment options for swollen turtle eyes:

TreatmentMaterials NeededInstructionsExpected Timeframe
Warm compressesWashcloth, warm waterGently apply warm, damp cloth to eyes for 10-15 mins 2-3 times dailyResults in 1-2 weeks.
Eye dropsAntibiotic eye drops from vetApply 1-2 drops to each eye 1-2 times daily according to vet’s instructions.1-4 days for minor infections.
OintmentAntibiotic ointment from vetGently apply thin layer to inside of eyelids 1-2 times daily.Improvement in 3-7 days. Vet follow up if no change after 1 week.
Salt waterNon-iodized salt, warm waterSoak eyes in salt water solution (1 tsp salt per quart water) for 10 mins daily.1 week for minor issues. Longer for severe cases.
Diet changeProtein-rich dietFeed a diet high in vitamin A and protein to boost immune function.1-2 months to see full effect.
musk turtle closeup
Owner: Stephenie Ciprian

home remedies in case of vitamin a deficiency

Here are some preventive home remedies you can take if the cause is vitamin A deficiency:

  • Always aim to give your turtle a diet that has a complete nutrition profile. I have seen many turtle owners only giving their turtles commercial pellets, which is wrong in many many levels.
  • Pellets are good, and they can form the majority of your turtle’s diet, however, they shouldn’t form 100% of the diet.
  • Along with pellets, you’ll also need to feed your turtles green leafy vegetables, calcium supplement, and fruits occasionally. Try to aim for a diverse diet that provides your turtle with a full nutrition profile.
  • Keep in mind that, younger turtles need more protein than older ones as they have much growing to do. Turtles prefer more and more vegetables as they grow older. So, make necessary adjustments to the turtle’s diet according to its age.
  • To get a full list of safe foods for pet turtle species, click here.

home remedies in case of poor water quality

In case of poor water quality, follow these preventive home remedies:

  • First check, if the tank size is proper for your turtle. A general rule of thumb is 10 gallons of water for every 1-inch shell size. So, if your turtle has a 5-inch length shell, you’ll at least need a 50-gallon tank.
  • I always recommend getting at least a 75 to 100 gallons tank if you are planning to keep species like red-eared sliders, painted turtles etc. Small tank size is the number one reason for poor water quality.
  • Turtles produce much more waste than any other fishes in an aquarium. So, you need a much more powerful filter that can cope up with the load of the tank. I recommend getting a powerful canister filter like the Aquatop CF500UV filter. It can actually cope up with large turtle tanks.
  • Perform water changes regularly. At least a 50% water change weekly is vital for the healthy growth of turtles. Frankly, there is no filter that can fully cope up with the load of a turtle tank for an indefinite amount of time. That’s why we need to perform water changes to balance out the parameters of the water.
See also  Is A Kiddie Pool Good For Turtles?

The last recommendation is, if your turtle is suffering from swollen eyes, transfer her to a quarantine tank. If you keep the sick turtle with other healthy turtles, chances are that bacteria from the sick turtle will attack the healthy turtles and make them sick too.

So, whenever you find your turtle sick, move it to a quarantine tank immediately.

Symptoms of turtle swollen eyes:

  • The eyelids will seem to be puffier than normal at the beginning stage. The puffiness will get worse with time. In severe cases, the turtle may get blind.
  • The orbital glands, as well as the conjunctiva, will get red
  • You may observe fluids secreting from the eyes of the turtles. Also, dead cells may start to gather around the eyes of the turtle.
  • In severe cases, the turtle will get blind, so it won’t be able to eat properly. As a result, it will lose weight rapidly.

Here is a table contrasting signs of improvement vs signs indicating no improvement or worsening when treating a turtle’s swollen eyes at home:

ImprovingNot Improving/Worsening
Reduced swelling/inflammation of eyelidsIncreased or no change in swelling/redness
Clearer appearance of eyesContinued cloudiness or discharge from eyes
Increased ability to open eyesInability to open eyes or decreased ability
Returned appetiteLoss of appetite
More active behaviorLethargy or reluctance to move
No signs of pain when eyes are touched or treatedWincing or aggressive behavior when eyes are touched
Good response to treatmentNo response or worsening despite multiple days of treatment

Red Eared Slider Swollen Eyes Treatment:

To treat swollen eyes of red-eared sliders, first, you need to find out the cause of the swollen eyes. It can be any of the two: vitamin A deficiency or poor water quality.

Identify the Cause:

  • Vitamin A Deficiency or Poor Water Quality are common causes.
  • Consult a vet for an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment Options:

  • Vitamin A Deficiency: Vet may administer vitamin A.
  • Poor Water Quality/Bacterial Attack: Vet may prescribe antibiotics.

Care Tips:

  • Diverse Diet: Include commercial pellets, leafy vegetables, occasional fruits, calcium supplements, and protein.
  • Vitamin A-Rich Foods: Offer sweet potatoes, kale, carrots, and spinach. Carrots are highly recommended.
  • Supplements:
    • Nature Zone’s Turtle Eye Vitamin: Provides antioxidants, vitamins, beta-carotene, phytonutrients, and minerals. Apply 2-4 drops on food or directly in the mouth.
    • Zoo Med’s Repti Turtle Eye Drops: Helps clean eyes and prevent diseases. Consult vet before use.

Habitat Maintenance:

  • Tank Size: Provide 10 gallons of water per inch of shell length.
  • Water Quality: Use a powerful canister filter. Regularly clean the tank.
  • Water Conditioner: Use products like Zoo Med ReptiSafe to make water safe.

Turtle Suffering from Swollen Eyes and Not Eating?

If swollen eyes get too severe, the turtle can get blind and fail to eat properly. In such cases, you must visit the vet immediately.

A vet will take the necessary steps for performing a treatment. The treatment procedure will vary according to the cause of the swollen eyes.

Also, along with asking for help from the vet, do the following:

  • You can try out different vitamin A supplements, Zoo Med Repti Turtle Eye Drops etc.
  • Perform a 50% water change. Add Zoo Med ReptiSafe conditioner to the water to make it completely safe for the turtle.
  • Make sure the diet is providing complete nutrition to your turtle. You can also ask the vet what to feed your turtle depending on the health condition.
See also  Turtles & Tortoises In Chinese Culture: Art, Symbolism, History

Usually, at the last stage, turtles can’t eat due to swollen eyes. So, if your turtle can’t eat, you need to take actions immediately. Otherwise, the turtle may even die at the worst case scenario.

Why Are My Turtle’s Eye Swollen?

Vitamin A deficiency and improper water chemistry are two main reasons for the turtle’s swollen eyes. But there are more. Such as,

1. Bacterial Infection:

Living in the water increases the risk of bacterial infection for turtles. It is because the damp surrounding is the favorite breeding spot for bacteria or fungi.

Moreover, leftover food or unfiltered feces in the enclosure make the situation worse by enticing bacterial growth.

As a result, the turtles fall victim to infectious diseases like eye infection, mouth rot, shell rot, etc., sooner or later. Puffy eyes, swollen eyes, shut eyes, eye discharge, etc., are signs of infection.

Learn about all potential eye diseases of turtles from this article.

2. Eye Injury:

A swollen eye can be the result of an injury. The pet can get the wound during a fight or from the poke of a sharp edge in the enclosure.

3. Dehydration:

You can not keep the turtles away from the water for too long. The pets may survive 1 week at maximum without water, giving off signs of dehydration. For example, swollen eyes, closed eyes, weight loss, fatigue, wrinkled skin, etc.

baby turtle close up
Owner: Cecille Hara-Recanel Cayetuna

How to cure turtle swollen eyes?

As I have said before, swollen eyes can occur due to 2 reasons: vitamin A deficiency and poor water quality.

In case of vitamin A deficiency, the vet may dose your turtle with a vitamin A supplement.

He’ll also suggest you give a proper diet to your turtles. You can also use some other supplements such as Nature Zone’s turtle eye vitamin.

Bacteria is the main culprit if the eyes get swollen due to poor water quality. In such cases, the vet may prescribe a systematic antibiotic.

Advice From A Turtle Expert

Addressing turtle eye issues such as puffiness or infection requires a nuanced approach, as highlighted by Bradfield Johnson, a dedicated reptile hobbyist.

He advises, “For eye inflammation, gently flushing the eye with saline solution and using vitamin A drops can be beneficial.”

He notes that in box turtles, swollen eyes often result from environmental irritants, with saline rinses proving effective.

However, Johnson cautions that aquatic turtles often suffer eye inflammation due to an infection in the nictitating membrane, necessitating ophthalmic antibiotics like Gentocin or Ciprodex.

NB: This site does not constitute pet medical advice, please consult a licensed veterinarian in your area for pet medical advice.

Turtle Medicine For Swollen Eyes:

This is a very sensitive topic. You shouldn’t apply any medicine to your turtle without the approval of a reptile certified vet. If your turtle suffers from swollen eyes, then take her to the vet. The vet will examine thoroughly and prescribe according to how serious the disease has become.

Here are some supplements you can use for turtles:

Before using any of these, ask the approval of your vet to be super safe.

So, this is my detailed article on turtle swollen eyes home remedy. I hope now you have a clear idea of what causes turtle swollen eyes, how to prevent it, how to treat it and what medicines to use.

If you have any more question, feel free to ask in the comment box below!

Can you use human eye drops on turtles?

Using human eye drops on turtles is generally not recommended.

Turtles have different eye anatomy and skin, which affects how they absorb medications compared to humans.

Human eye drops might contain chemicals harmful to turtles, potentially causing irritation or burns.

It’s crucial to consult a veterinarian before using any eye drops on turtles, and they might prescribe specific types that are safe for reptile use.

In some cases, a gentle lubricant or artificial tears might be safe, but always under veterinary guidance​​.

Can A Turtle Die from Swollen Eyes?

Swollen eyes or eye infection is a common disease among pet turtles. The condition is easily curable if it is treated timely. There are rare incidents of turtles dying because of swollen eyes.

But a turtle’s swollen eyes can also be a symptom of some underlying diseases or infections. A turtle’s eyes can swell because of respiratory infections, dehydration, nutritional deficiencies, and ear abscesses. If the underlying condition is not treated, the turtle’s health will deteriorate, eventually leading to death.

Therefore, it is crucial to identify the reason behind eye infection in a turtle and treat it as soon as possible. Besides, untreated eye infections can cause serious health issues. Your pet turtle can become blind if it does not get proper treatment. A blind turtle will have difficulty finding food and suffer from malnutrition.

Why Does My Turtle Puff His Neck?

In general, a puff in the turtle’s neck is nothing serious. The chances are that the pet is just catching air.

However, there is a narrow possibility that an underlying medical condition is causing the puff in the pet’s throat.

See also  How Much Does It Cost To Build A Turtle Pond? [Save $]

All possible causes and remedies for turtle throat puffing are discussed below,

1. Breath In! Breath Out!

Just like any other animal, your turtle also uses oxygen to survive. But the oxygen underwater is not enough for the pet. Hence, the turtle comes to the surface from time to time to replenish its lungs with air.

As per reports, a turtle can hold its breath for up to 1 hour during days. When asleep, this period may stretch to 5 – 7 hours. The pet will rush to the surface as soon as it runs out of oxygen.

When inhaling air, the turtles often puff out their throats. It helps them take deep breaths by pulling more oxygen into the lungs.

2. Might Be Respiratory Illness!

A bacterial, fungal, or viral attack on the respiratory tract leads to respiratory illness. According to vets, the sick turtles can exhibit a puffy neck along with other symptoms like,

  • Labored breathing
  • Discharge from eyes, mouth, and nose
  • Wheezing, sneezing, coughing
  • Weight loss
  • Appetite loss
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent basking
  • Afraid of water, etc.

If your turtle shows any of the above signs, take the pet to the vet. He will prescribe the turtle antibiotic medicines. Besides, you can follow these home remedies to quicken the curing period.

3. Pneumonia Is Deadly!

Ignoring respiratory illness for too long is proven deadly. The infection may spread to the lungs, developing pneumonia.

Turtles with pneumonia can die a miserable death. Even if the pets survive, they suffer from non-reversible lung damage that reduces their lifespan.

The prominent signs of pneumonia are, floating sideways, puffy neck, runny nose, appetite loss, etc. Contact the experts immediately to treat the turtles.

4. Have You Changed The Diet?

Many owners suggest that a change in diet can also cause a puffy throat. Generally, meals high in sugar and sodium cause this physical issue.

Therefore, if you notice a puffy neck in turtles, review the meal plan first. Notice the nutrient contents thoroughly to find out the issue. However, contact a vet if you feel confused.

White Film Over Turtles Eyes: Causes, Treatment, & Prevention

The causes of swollen eyes and white films on the eyes may overlap. But the treatment and prevention methods are different.

For example, besides the suspicion of a bacterial or fungi attack, a white film can arise from other factors.


  1. Poor Water Quality: Tortoises are messy creatures. They shit where they eat. No wonder why their tanks get dirty too often and require filtration. If you let the tortoises live in a filthy environment, the pet may develop infectious skin, lung, or eye diseases.
  2. Respiratory Illness: Infection in the respiratory tract leads to respiratory illness. The sick tortoises show symptoms like discharge from the eyes, nose, and mouth. Mucus released from the eyes is sticky, forming a cloudy deposit in the eyes.
  3. Bacterial Infection: The white film over the eyes often indicates an infection. You may notice swollen eyelids and white mucus discharge along with cloudy eyes. Generally, weak immunity due to a poor diet and improper care sheet is responsible for bacterial attacks in turtles.
  4. Algae Film: There is a chance that the white film over the eyes is some kind of algae deposition. Any turtle tank is a breeding ground for algae. Failing to control the population leads to cloudiness in the eyes.
  5. Eye Tear: A poke in the eye or irritation can tear up the eyes of the turtles. You can tag it as a self-defensive mechanism to reduce the inflammation and soothe the burn. Sometimes, the white film you notice in the turtles is a result of the tear.


White film or eye infection of any kind needs to be treated immediately. Otherwise, the pets may experience vision damage and even blindness.

It is safe to take the turtles to a vet to determine the root of the white film over their eyes. The expert may prescribe an eyedrop along with lifestyle changes.


Luckily, the prevention and post-treatment steps for white films on turtle eyes are the same. Such as,

  1. Maintain a hygienic environment inside the turtle enclosure. As these pets create a mess inside the enclosure, install a powerful filter to prevent bacterial or fungal growth. Besides, change 25% of pen water every week and replace the entire tank water at least once a month. The water may look cloudy at first, but it will settle with time.
  2. Feed the turtles a healthy diet.
  3. Ensure that a quality UV lamp, heating bulb, and large basking dock are present inside the habitat.

More details on white film over turtles eyes are discussed in my previous write-up.

Why is My Turtle Rubbing His Eyes?

Rubbing eyes usually indicates that something is irritating the turtle’s eyes. It can be anything, from an eye infection to an irregularity in the surrounding.

The possible causes why your turtle rubs its eyes are,

  1. Eye infection
  2. Eye injury
  3. Improper basking temperature
  4. Unfit UV lamp
  5. Too much brightness in the enclosure
  6. Poor water condition ( high ammonia/ chlorine)
  7. Vitamin A deficiency
  8. Foreign substance
  9. Ear abscess, etc.

If you notice your turtle rubbing its eyes frequently, take a closer look at its eyes. Swollen eyelids, puffy eyes, buildups on eyelids, etc., are signs of vitamin A deficiency or bacterial infection. The pet requires a prescribed eye drop to get rid of this irritation.

An eye injury or a foreign substance poking the eyes also causes irritation. You must contact the vet immediately in such conditions.

Moreover, the low-quality lighting arrangements and improper water chemistry can irritate the turtle’s eyes. Therefore, ensure high-quality lamp setups and use solutions to restore the water balance.

red eared slider closeup
Owner: Heather Powell

Carrot Bath for Turtles: Does It Work?

Swollen eye or eye infection mostly results from vitamin A deficiency. Hence, feeding the turtle vitamin A rich food can reverse the condition. Carrot is the most popular remedy for hypovitaminosis as it is enriched in vitamin A.

But what if your pet does not like carrots or similar vegetables? What do you do then?

Well, in such cases, a carrot bath can be your solution.

Carrot soaks help feed the turtles vitamin A and keep the pets hydrated. The creatures also get an appetite boost and eye irritation.

Remember, a carrot bath does not cure eye infections or swelling. Instead, you can treat it as a supplement to keep the pet healthy.

Follow the below steps to prepare a carrot soak for your turtle,

  • Pour water into a pot and put it on the stove for boiling.
  • Take two medium carrots.
  • Wash and peel them properly.
  • Cut off the top and bottom of the carrots. Those are not necessary for preparing the bath.
  • Toss the carrots in the boiling water and wait until they become soft.
  • Put off the stove and allow the water and carrots to cool.
  • Next, mix the carrot with the water to prepare the bath. The perfect ratio for carrot puree and water is 2:4.

Sharing is caring!

About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


This site is owned and operated by Muntaseer Rahman. TheTurtleHub.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.