I am sincerely ***** ***** there was a delay in someone responding to your question. (Experts are independent contractors and as such are online based on their own schedules.) However, I am available and can assist you if you still need veterinary advice.
Hello and thanks for posting your question on JustAnswer.com. My name is***** and I have been a licensed and accredited veterinarian in the US for over 22 years, specializing in aquatics, reptiles, amphibians, avian and other exotic species. JustAnswer is a question-and-answer service, not a veterinary telemedicine or emergency service. On this platform veterinarians can provide insight and advice based on the information you provide, but as this is not considered a legal client-patient relationship and we cannot examine your pet, we are unable to provide definitive diagnoses, prescribe medications, provide medical records or sign documents for your specific pet. For any of those you would need to make an in person visit with a local veterinarian. If your pet has a serious illness or life-threatening emergency, I strongly recommend you obtain hands-on veterinary care with a local veterinarian or veterinary emergency service as soon as possible. I am happy to chat with you via the JustAnswer app via text. For US based clients, if you are interested in a phone call instead that is an option you can choose for an additional charge. In the meantime, I am putting together some questions and/or suggestions to help with your pet’s concern.
Thanks again for posting your question, I’m sorry that your bearded dragon Spot is under the weather with a matted shut eye. I have some questions that will help me get a better idea of your pet’s environment and what may be going on with them:
-Is there any visible discharge from the eye, nose or mouth? One eye or both?
-What is the current tank temperature gradient (cool side, warm, and hottest basking temp) and humidity?
-Do they receive any access to UV light?
-Have they been eating normally?
-What do you normally feed them? Do they receive any calcium or vitamin supplements?
-Any other signs such as weight loss, lethargy, loss of appetite, straining to defecate, open mouthed breathing, sunken eyes, wrinkled skin, lumps/bumps, etc.?
Thanks very much for providing additional information, it is very helpful for me to try and figure out what is going on with your bearded dragon and the history information will help me to do that.
If you can upload a photo or video that might be helpful. You can do so using the upload attachment (paperclip) icon below the text field. Please note that files need to be less than 5 Mb to upload properly. Thanks.
Okay thanks, ***** ***** very new and very little. Young dragons should be fairly active though they can be shy for the first week or so after going to a new home. Do you think the eyes are closed because he's weak or lethargic or area you seeing crusting or swelling or discharge with the eyes?
Super important to make sure he's warm enough. Babies need higher basking temperatures and measuring the temperature just above the surface at the basking spot (hot), middle of the tank (warm) and on the other side (cool) is extremely important to make sure temperatures are proper. Also you need a hygrometer to also measure humidity, if it's too dry they can have skin and eye issues or become dehydated.
Temperature is very important for keeping your dragon healthy with a gradient of temperature from cool or warm. Daytime temperature range with a cool side at 77-80F (25-27C), a warm side at 85-90F (30-32C) and a very warm, focal basking area of 95-105F (35-41C) for adults and juveniles and a slightly warmer 105-110F (35-44C) for babies. A nighttime temperature range of 70-75F (21.5-24C) should be provided. 30-40% humidity is recommended. Although they are from an arid region, having sufficient humidity is important to respiratory and skin issues and not too much humidity is important to prevent secondary infections from moisture loving microbes.
With any bearded dragon that might be sick, it is always a good idea to start by checking that their environment and husbandry are proper for their species. Taking a physical measurement of the temperature gradient within the enclosure and measuring humidity with a hygrometer are a good idea. Making sure the UVB bulb is appropriate for the size of the space and has been changed regularly. Even if they are still producing visible light, UVB bulbs have a limited lifespan and need to be changed every 6-12 months, depending upon bulb type. Making sure diet is varied and the insects have been gut loaded with a nutritious gut-loading diet as well as dusted regularly with calcium and multivitamin powder. Therefore, I am attaching a bearded dragon care (husbandry) reference sheet that I put together. Please review it at your convenience and let me know if you have any questions.
For example, if the environmental temperatures are too low, since bearded dragons are cold-blooded, this will negatively affect their metabolism, appetite, digestion and immune function. So start by checking the temperature gradient in the enclosure and, if it's too low, adjust your basking light or get a stronger watt bulb so you are achieving the proper environmental temperatures.
In the meantime, I will give you some information about what may be causing these signs, a care sheet with recommendations about environment and diet as some common medical conditions are unintentionally caused by improper husbandry (such as too low temperatures, humidity, UVB lighting or calcium and vitamin supplementation) and some suggestions for home care and support of your ill bearded dragon or while you are awaiting a visit to the veterinarian.
Okay that's good. Can you please tell me what you are measuring as the temperature (cool, warm and basking) and humidity in the tank?
There are a number of reasons that a bearded dragon might develop an eye problem, such as swelling, crusting, discoloration or keeping one or both eyes closed. Causes might include trauma (bite or scratch from a tankmate, scratched cornea), foreign body (like dirt or sand) on the eye or under the lid, infection with parasites, bacteria, viruses, or mites, nutritional deficiency (Vitamins A or D), neoplasia (cancer), environmental problems (humidity too high or low, irritants in environment from waste or toxins, dehydration or difficulty shedding skin around eyes. Although the ear, mouth and eye are different anatomical structures, the proximity of the eye to either means that a problem inside the ear or mouth, such as an abscess, can sometimes cause the eye to protrude outwards and appear swollen.
-If it is caused by incomplete shed or dehydration, then misting your bearded dragon several times a day or soaking him in a warm (90F) bath for 15-30 minutes might help.
-Mites will appear as brown, black or red dots on the skin and you may see white dots (eggs) as well.
-Scratches to the corneal can be painful and they will keep the eye closed due to discomfort. Infections can also cause the eye to close.
-Nutritional deficits such as hypovitaminosis A (too little vitamin A in the diet) can lead to changes in the tissue lining the eye causing swelling and eye closure. Feeding a balanced diet is important and supplementing once a week with a multivitamin powder (usually mixed with calcium) that has vitamins A and D3 is recommended.
-Double check the tank humidity to ensure it is in the ideal 30-40% range.
-Make sure the UVB bulb you have is appropriate for reptiles and for the enclosure size and depth. If the bulb is too strong, it may cause discomfort or even burning leading to closed eyes.
-Lastly make sure the bearded dragon’s enclosure is clean and well-maintained. A dusty or dirty enclosure can be irritating to their eyes.
Things to try at home:
You can gently rinse the affected eye(s) with a saline eye wash. Good options include Fluker’s Repta Rinse Reptile Eye Wash or, in the US, the human equivalent Bausch and Lomb Advanced Eye Relief. These are saline solutions plus some antiseptics (boric acid and/or benzalkonium chloride) and lubricants.
If you can’t get these, then an alternative is RenaSan Antiseptic Eye Drops, Vetericyn Plus Eye Wash or Leucillin Antiseptic Skincare drops which are hypochlorous and saline solutions. Flush the eye copiously but gently at least 2 to 4 times daily. You can gently tip the affected side downward a few degrees while you flush to discourage any wash from getting into his mouth or nose.
If you suspect this might be from a vitamin A deficiency, you can do the saline eye wash first and then add some Zoo Med Repti Turtle Eye Drops. These drops contain saline and vitamin A. Apply 1-2 drops once daily for a week. I know the name says Turtle but it's fine to use this product in bearded dragons.
Or, if the eye is irritated but there are no obvious signs of wounds (cuts, punctures or flaps) to the eyeball itself, after rinsing you can apply some lubricating ointment, like Systane Nighttime Lubricant Eye Ointment or GenTeal Night-Time Lubricant Eye Ointment. They are available over the counter at stores such as Walgreens, Walmart, Rite-Aid, etc. They are not medicated, they contain lubricants and lanolin. They will help protect the eye and keep it moist until you can get an evaluation by a veterinarian.
DO NOT use any medicated eye products for people, like Visine, etc., these can be toxic to bearded dragons.
If you notice some chunks of discharge on the eye or eyelid surface, you can take a cotton tipped applicator (cotton swab or cotton bud) and gently roll it along the eye's surface to help remove the discharge. Don't wipe or poke the eye. Use a gentle rolling motion to help collect up debris.
Because similar signs can be caused by many different causes, for eye problems that persist, recur or cause discomfort to your pet, an ocular evaluation by a veterinarian experienced with reptiles is recommended. The veterinarian will examine your lizard to find the source of the swelling by looking in the mouth, nares (nostrils) and at the eye and ear. They will do a thorough eye exam with a special hand-held magnifying tool, an ophthalmoscope, and may also place a special stain into the animal’s eye to look for signs of damage to the cornea. They may need to do additional diagnostics like imaging or bloodwork. Treatment will depend upon what is found from examination and diagnostics.
To help find a local veterinarian with reptile experience, here is a useful website you can use to search for a local reptile veterinarian:
(please note this site may not work on older browsers like Safari)
These veterinarians are active members of the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians, which means they have interest and experience in treating reptile patients.
Okay thanks. Your tank is a bit too cold for a young bearded dragon, I recommend increasing the temperature. Yes, I agree humidity is a bit too low. This can impact skin, respiratory and eye health.
Cool side should be around 80F. Central warm area is okay around 90-95, but the basking spot should be fairly hot around 110F.
The target is 30-40% humidity inside the bearded dragon tank. Note that humidity goes up when air temperature goes down (warm air can hold more moisture), so the tank humidity might increase at night when the basking light is off. That's why it is good to measure humidity a various spots in the tank as well as occasionally at night.
Ways to raise humidity:
-Move water dish closer to the heat source or heat lamps. Add a larger or a second water dish.
-Increase the frequency and amount of misting.
-Add live plants.
-Add a humidifier to your home, the room the dragon tank is located or add a reptile fogger to the enclosure.
-Use the AC less in the room where the bearded dragon enclosure is kept, as air conditioners remove moisture from the air.
If you feel he is lethargic and not eating properly then you should consider doing some warm water soaks. You can give your bearded dragon a soak in a shallow dish of warm water (90-95F or 30-32C) for 15-30 minutes once or twice a day. The water should only be shoulder depth and please monitor them while in the bath so their head doesn't submerge. Dry them off after the bath so they don't cool off too much from evaporation. The soaks might also help loosen crusts around the eyes as well or if the eye issue is from any retained skin/shed material.
I do hope little Spot feels better soon. Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance or if you have any questions about bearded dragon care after reviewing the care sheet I shared with you.
Thanks for using JustAnswer.com.
Sincerely, ***** *****
You are most welcome.
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