Declining vision can take a devastating toll on a once energetic bearded dragon. It is normal to wonder whether a beardie is going blind when it begins displaying signs such as failure to catch live crickets in their enclosures or unresponsiveness to the owner’s hands moving directly in front of its eyes.
This article answers the question “Can Bearded Dragons Go Blind?” by uncovering the signs of declined vision in these adorable lizards. We also look at common eye problems beardies may face in their lifetime and potential causes of blindness if any.
Can Bearded Dragons Go Blind?
Bearded dragons may be born blind or experience impaired vision from untreated eye infections like cataracts. Old age could also reduce the beardie’s ability to see objects in front of its eyes. A visit to a reptile vet should diagnose existing eye problems if any for the right treatment.
Noticing that your bearded dragon’s eyesight is not as sharp as it once was can be heartbreaking for many folks. However, all hope is not lost because vets typically prescribe effective treatments that clear up the majority of eye infections.
Why Is My Bearded Dragon’s Eye Not Opening?
Sick beardies may refuse to open their eyes and usually lie down in the same spot without moving. Another sign of sickness is a loss of interest in their food. Even when they do eat, the decline in appetite is often sharp.
The blind bearded dragon’s eyes often stay open even if it cannot see. Sometimes, one eye could be opened while the remaining one stays closed in order to gain better focus on an object. Like humans, beardies instinctively close one eye to be able to see more clearly especially when prey like crickets is introduced into its enclosure.
Causes of Blindness in Bearded Dragons
Here are the major causes of blindness in bearded dragons, a common condition that many pet lizards have to deal with in their lifetimes.
Bearded dragons are rarely born blind but it is not impossible. The condition arises in lizards carrying the blindness gene from their parents. Although there’s no cure for bearded dragons born blind, a vet consultation is still necessary for confirmation.
The best way to prevent ending up with blind animals at birth is to conduct gene testing before allowing the breeding pair to mate. These tests can reveal the existence of not only gene mutations that may cause impaired vision but other serious sicknesses as well. (Source)
Beardies born blind require specialized care throughout their lifetimes to increase productivity and a decent opportunity to enjoy meaningful lives.
Parasites like mites are a leading cause of blindness in bearded dragons. These blood-sucking organisms may be transferred onto the beardie’s skin via physical contact with other infected animals. However, the scaly nature of the lizard’s skin could prove difficult for parasites to penetrate.
The existing parasites are left with little choice but to concentrate on softer skin areas like the nose, ears, belly, and eyes. These parasites enjoy rapid multiplication in numbers within a short period causing more damage to the beardie’s eyes which can lead to blindness.
Always test for signs of parasites in bearded dragons via regular visits to a reptile vet. Anti-parasites and other topical treatments may eliminate these organisms before blindness and other more complicated issues pop in.
Old age is another leading cause of blindness in bearded dragons. The natural aging process takes a toll on various organs of the beardie’s body including the eyes. Vision impairments occur over time as the adorable lizard’s ability to see reduces.
Blindness is often progressive instead of instant and long-sightedness at the onset is common. Over time, even the nearest objects become difficult to see leading to partial blindness and full vision loss eventually.
Old age also predisposes bearded dragons to cataracts, glaucoma, and other eye infections that can cause blindness.
Bearded dragons may suffer blindness from physical injury to the eye. This could be due to accidental falls in its tank or outdoors when the lizard is allowed to enjoy some fresh air during the summer.
Beardies are also known for displaying territorial behavior when paired up in a terrarium and this could lead to physical fights and related injuries. We recommend putting one bearded dragon per tank to eliminate the risks of physical fights and related problems.
Long-term exposure to cataracts could result in blindness in bearded dragons. The condition is often characterized by cloudy-colored pupils caused by exposure to improper lighting. Cataracts are usually progressive in affected bearded dragons which is why a quick veterinarian appointment is recommended.
The vet often provides confirmation of the condition and the extent of the infection. The vet may also reveal whether the condition is correctable and what steps should be taken if any.
In some cases, changes to the beardie’s diet can help clear off cataracts because the lack of proper nutrition is one of the main causes of the condition.
What Are The Signs of Eye Infections In Bearded Dragons?
Droopy eyes are a common sign of eye infections in bearded dragons. The eyes may also look swollen or puffed up during parasitic infections. Bearded dragons may suffer cloudy-colored eyes as a sign of cataracts.
A quick visit to a reptile vet should be booked immediately when signs of eye infections become apparent in beardies. The vet may conduct proper examinations to diagnose the problem and prescribe the necessary treatment.
How Do I Feed My Blind Bearded Dragon?
Blind bearded dragons can be fed by touching the mouth while standing directly in front of their faces. The next step is to bring the food closer to its mouth and continue tapping it to teach the beardie that you’re ready to offer food.
Eventually, bearded dragons learn that tapping the mouth occurs when it is time to eat. This should make feeding easier in the future despite the reptile’s impaired vision. Silkworms could be a great food option for blind beardies since they are nutritious and move slowly which allows the lizard to catch them easily despite the lack of vision.
Blind bearded dragons may also be called by name once they learn the name which can serve as an alert prior to being fed.
How To Care For Blind Bearded Dragons
Caring for bearded dragons can be a bit more complicated compared to those with good eyesight but success is not impossible. Here are a few ways to provide comfort.
Feeding is essential to blind beardies of all ages, especially during infancy. Blind infants should be taught how to eat baby formula 4-5x daily since struggling to find and eat live insects like crickets is inevitable. You may reduce the amount of food the beardie is eating as signs become apparent that the reptile is getting full.
The beardie should be fed with water via a syringe at regular intervals to ensure continuous hydration throughout the day.
A Blind beardie’s tank should have UVB lighting to meet the reptile’s needs. Owners should also observe the lizard’s reaction to the tank’s conditions. If the basking light is excessive, beardies typically respond by hiding from the light which should serve as a clue to reduce the temperature.
During the summer, beardies can be taken out to enjoy the breeze and the change of scenery as long as temperatures are at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Blind bearded dragons often experience crusty eyes which may be cleared by turtle drops or saline solution. The crusty eyes can be loosened with a wet q-tip to make the clearing up easy.
Are Bearded Dragons Colorblind?
Bearded dragons are not color blind and see more colors on the electromagnetic spectrum compared to humans. This is because bearded dragons are tetra-chromatic meaning they have four color receptors compared to the 3 found in humans.
Beardies have a natural predisposition to brighter colors since it catches their attention more. It is not uncommon for darker colors to be ignored in favor of lighter shades. However, beardies lose their ability to identify colors when in darkness, just like humans and many other creatures.
The bearded dragon’s diurnal nature means it is used to sleeping in darkness which makes night vision necessary in their habitat.
Conclusion: Can Bearded Dragons Go Blind?
Bearded dragons can go blind from physical injury to the eyes, parasitic infections, or at birth from genetic problems. Blind beardies should be given extra care to guarantee meaningful and comfortable lives.
Firstly, test for blindness by waving your hands directly in front of the beardie’s eyes to see if it follows the hands. The next step is to visit a reptile vet for confirmation of eyesight loss and other eye problems that may be existent.