Leopard Gecko Eye Issues

Leopard gecko eye close-up.
Leopard geckos can have issues with their eyes that may need medical treatment. Getty Images/Corey Hochachka

Leopard geckos are sometimes seen at veterinary clinics for eye issues. Because their eyes are proportionately large, they tend to get things stuck in them, develop abscesses, get infections, and have other issues more commonly than we do with our own eyes.

Thankfully many of these eye issues can be attributed to the husbandry we provide and environmental factors that we can control. Therefore, it is important to not only be able to recognize a possible eye issue before it is too late but to also provide appropriate care to pet leopard geckos to try and prevent eye problems to begin with.

Leopard Gecko Eye Foreign Bodies

This is what your exotics vet will call something in your leopard gecko's eye that shouldn't be there. A foreign body can be a piece of gravel or bedding, food, retained skin, or something else that doesn't belong around an eyeball. These items have gotten stuck or lodged in the eye socket or a leopard gecko causing issues.

By using cotton-tipped applicators, saline rinse, and sometimes even some eye lubrication, your vet should be able to remove the irritating foreign body from the affected eye. Occasionally the foreign body is so difficult to remove, though, or the leopard gecko won't open up its eye enough to remove what doesn't belong that some light sedation, or anesthesia, is administered. This will relax your gecko and allow your vet to work more quickly without accidentally damaging its eye.

If you attempt to remove an item from your leopard gecko's eye, be very gentle. Try rinsing the eye with saline eye rinse while gently restraining your gecko. You can even gently swab the eye with a cotton-tipped applicator or cotton ball but be careful not to hurt your gecko or stress it out enough to cause it to drop its tail.

Leopard Gecko Eye Abscesses

An eye itself can get punctured, become infected or develop an abscess but more commonly, the area directly under the eye swells up due to an abscess from a wound that doesn't involve the eyeball. You'll be able to identify this abscess if you may notice a bump under your leopard gecko's eye that has suddenly appeared one day. This abscess could be because of a cricket or mealworm bite or the leopard gecko could have scratched itself in its terrarium on a branch or other object. Sometimes geckos that live together can also fight and cause abscesses to form on each other.

But regardless of the reason for the abscess, your leopard gecko will need it to be drained by your vet and cleaned out. Your vet may use a scalpel blade or a needle to pop the zit-like abscess and then gently squeeze the infected material out of it. Then, depending on how bad the area around the eye is, your vet may send you home with eye drops, pain medications, anti-inflammatories, and antibiotics.

Leopard Gecko Eye Ulcers

When a foreign body gets stuck in your gecko's eye or other trauma occurs to the eyeball itself, damage to the clear, outer coating of the eye called the cornea may occur resulting in the formation of an ulcer. An ulcer is a hole or tear in the cornea and it can be a small spot or cover the entire eyeball.

Ulcers, as you can imagine, are a very painful eye issue. If your gecko has an eye ulcer it may be holding its eye shut, trying to clean the eye with its tongue, or scratching it with its foot. To diagnose an ulcer, your exotics vet will use a special eye stain that will stick to the ulcer on the cornea if one is present. Then, your vet will use a black light to cause the stain to light up on the ulcer so that it can be visualized. If an ulcer is found you will be sent home with special eye drops and your gecko will need to be rechecked in a few weeks to make sure the ulcer is going away. There are unfortunately no home remedies for an eye ulcer.

Leopard Gecko Pink Eye

Conjunctivitis is the technical name for pink eye and is the inflammation of the pink part that surrounds your leopard gecko's eye. This pinkish-red, fleshy part of the eye is called the conjunctiva. Leopard gecko eyes usually get bacterial conjunctivitis that require an antibiotic eye drop or ointment. They can get this conjunctivitis from dirty water or any dirty environment that would harbor bacteria such as a terrarium that hasn't been cleaned well.

Leopard Gecko Eye Proptosis

Proptosis is probably the worst type of eye issue a leopard gecko can have but thankfully it's also the least commonly seen one. Proptosis is when the eyeball comes out of the eye socket. Really the only way this can occur to a leopard gecko is if it is squeezed so hard that the eye comes out. If proptosis occurs, the eye usually has to be removed by your exotics vet.

Leopard Gecko Blindness

Sometimes leopard geckos are born blind due to congenital issues but other times trauma or other situations can cause blindness. Regardless of the reason for being blind, leopard geckos should do just fine without their sight. You may need to help a blind leopard gecko eat though since they could have a difficult time catching moving food such as a cricket but otherwise it will live out its life in a regular enclosure just fine.