How to Care for a Swollen Eye on a Red-eared Slider Turtle

Red-eared slider turtles often have swollen or puffy eyes.
Red-eared slider turtles often have swollen or puffy eyes. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

The red-eared slider turtle can be distinguished by the red markings on the sides of its face. Red-eared sliders are appropriate turtles for beginners because they are not fussy about temperature and are easy to keep. However, swollen or puffy eyes -- which may be caused by a bacterial infection, a scratch from another turtle, chlorine or a vitamin A deficiency -- are a common ailment among domestic turtles. You can care for your red-eared slider's swollen eyes with the help of your veterinarian.

Things You'll Need

  • Vitamin A injections
  • Antibiotic injections
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Cotton swab
  • Dechlorinator

Take your red-eared slider to a veterinarian that specializes in reptiles. She will diagnose the cause of the swollen eyes. The two main culprits are a vitamin A deficiency or a bacterial infection. If the vitamin A deficiency is not terminal, the turtle should make a complete and rapid recovery.

Treat vitamin A deficiencies with an injection. You will have to alter your red-eared slider turtle's diet to include foods rich in vitamin A. Your veterinarian can advise you on ways to improve your turtle's diet.

Confirm bacterial infections by asking your vet to test the mucous around the turtle's eye. The vet will then give the turtle an antibiotic injection and possibly an oil-based ointment that should be applied with a cotton swab. Bacterial infections are usually caused by poor environmental conditions. Clean your red-eared slider's environment and improve conditions by cleaning or replacing the filter, checking temperatures and keeping your vivarium clean at all times.

Check your red-eared slider's water for chlorine. Chlorine can cause the eyes to swell. Dechlorinate your turtle's water with a few drops of dechlorinator available at pet and aquarium stores. Dechlorinate the water every time you change it.

Tips & Warnings

  • Turtles are able to spread diseases to humans. Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling a turtle or touching turtle water. Make sure to wash under your fingernails.

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