Iguana Eye Problems {10 Possible Causes}

My iguana has suffered a few eye problems in the past.

Some iguana eye problems are serious while others can be treated with a few adjustments to the enclosure, balanced food or medication.

This article is meant to describe various iguana eye problems and also a bonus detail about an iguana’s  third eye.

Iguana Eye Problems

There are many cases of iguana eye problems that are disassociated or connected. Some causes are indicated below and may need a professional to determine the true diagnosis with prescription medication to alleviate the situation. They are as follows:

  1. Eye infections
  2. Mechanical eye damage
  3. Damage to eye structure
  4. Bright light damage
  5. Eye irritation from cleaning agents or other chemicals
  6. Hypovitaminosis A (lack of vitamin A)
  7. Soap or medicine in eyes
  8. Injuries to the eye
  9. Abscesses
  10. Fungal skin infection

Why Are Iguanas Eyes Swollen?

The eyelids of your iguana can swell when their diet is lacking Vitamin A. Hypovitaminosis A is a condition that causes the swelling of the eyes in iguanas as well as other lizards.

Vitamin A is found inside:

  • Vegetables
  • Flowers
  • Fruit

The Vitamin A deficiency may cause:

  • cornea damage
  • eye clouding
  • dry eyes
  • poor eyesight
  • blindness

Iguana Eyes Bulging

An iguanas eyes don’t bulge out the way they do with a chameleon. However, when you notice your iguana’s eyes looking puffed out, this might be the excess skin on the eyelids themselves.

What is occurring is that during normal shedding routines, the skin on the eyes protrude out before eventually falling off.

Do Iguanas Have Sensitive Eyes?

Yes. Many caregivers of iguanas report eye problems for many causes and reasons. Will cleaning the cage cause iguana eye problems? Take a look for yourself below:

Cage Cleaning Chemicals

Eyes irritation is common when cleaning agents with many chemicals used for cage maintenance ends up rubbing into the eyes of iguanas.

The gas from the chemicals themselves might be enough to cause the irritation. Reptile cage cleaning sprays are better than generic chemical cleaners.

Otherwise look to use only:

  • bleach
  • pet safe products
  • baby safe products
  • vinegar
  • baking soda
  • drop of dish soap in water

Keep your iguana in a separate area during cleaning and never with them still inside the enclosure.

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Iguana Eye Damage

The damage to your iguana’s eyes could be mechanical. The following could occur:

  • Scratched eyes
  • Foreign objects entering the eye
  • Eye ulcers
  • Cornea damage

The cage wire could be the culprit if your iguana doesn’t venture out too often. The mechanical damage to the eyes could be permanent and needs a veterinarian’s examination to determine whether or not treatment is available.

Iguana Eye Infection

Iguana eye infections look like your reptile has discolored eyes. They may look:

  • Pale
  • Yellow
  • Red
  • Dull
  • Swollen

Color changes are also a serious concern all around. Please visit this article for a moment to see why.

There are medications aimed at treating eye infections in iguanas. You may even find them over the counter.

We recommend a visit to the vet for the appropriate identification, treatment and possibly find out what may have caused it in the first place.

Do Lights Hurt Iguana Eyes?

Yes. Iguanas do not shy away from direct sunlight in the wild. They may keep their eyes open, but when they have enough, they will move to a shadier spot for the rest of their afternoon.

Basking spots with heating lamps and lights are used in plenty of enclosures for iguanas. The trick is all in the positioning. An iguana should not be surrounded by light.

They may not close their eyelids and risk damage to their eyes with pounding light. They may not have enough space to escape the light source throughout the day and this could lead to swelling or other eye problems.

How To Flush Iguana Eyes

Are you using drops of Betadine in a warm bath for your iguana? Anything you put in water could irritate their eyes.

Alternatively you can flush out their eyes with saline solution or antimicrobial reptile eye solution. This will help to remove any:

  • Debris
  • Dirt
  • Sand
  • Substrate particles
  • Pieces of skin
  • Foreign objects

Using loose substrate in their tank only heightens the risk of eye problems. It’s best to keep the substrate clean and clear of dirt of other substrate material such as small wood chips.

Why Can’t My Iguana Open Eyes?

Some iguana keep their eyes closed when they are sick or cold. They could be in a coma when temperatures drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

  1. If the eye is swollen and puffy, there could be an abscess causing them to limit eye opening or movement.
  2. If the abscess swells, the puss and redness will irritate them to the point where they may not even want to try opening their eyes.

An antibiotic solution must be applied after a vet has been able to drain the fluids. This abscess could be associated with other underlying problems or infection in various spots on their body.

Iguana Eye Fungus

Bacterial infections could also be fungal when the eye of your iguana looks:

  • swollen
  • puffy
  • red 
  • discharge is coming out of it

Malnourishment or unhygienic issues could cause this to occur. Antibiotics can be administered orally through their food or topically.

This iguana may have been kept in poor conditions before you started to care for them. They may have weaker eyes living under bright lights or no UVB lighting at all.

Without UVB lighting, they will not be able to build up Vitamin D3 on their skin to strengthen their immune systems. Dusting their food with calcium will also help boost their defense responses to fungal and bacterial infections.

Iguana Closing One Eye

My iguana’s eyes were open, then one of them closed. Then both of them closed. I kept watching, but he didn’t open both eyes.

This went on for 20 minutes. I’m sure he was trying to tell me something. An iguana with one eye closed could be:

  • Tired
  • Lacking vitamin A
  • Ill
  • Infected
  • Have an abscess in one eye
  • Shedding in one eye

After checking through this list above, I didn’t think these were the problems he was having. He was nervous about the excess noise from the construction outside my window.

He felt threatened, stiff and couldn’t relax. I kept giving him attention and calmed him down to the point where he closed both eyes for a while and opened them together once again.

Thankfully, the rattling, vibration and banging construction also ceased so he could eat soon after.

Iguana Third Eye

If you have ever heard about iguanas having three eyes or a third eye, then we should find out what this really means.

Can iguanas see out of three eyes? No. The third eye rests above their head.

This is the parietal eye which:

  • Is unable to see
  • Cannot discern shapes
  • Cannot detect color
  • Senses light
  • Senses movement

The third eye is perfect for arboreal iguanas who evade predators on the ground and can sense with this eye when there are any birds of prey trying to swoop down on them from up above.

I’ve also got a great article on why iguanas stare located here. Check it out as it is related and useful.

Thank you for visiting PocketPetCentral.com for the best information to help you enjoy the life of your pocket pet companion in a fun, safe & healthy way.


My name is Anna and I work full time in my local pet shop where we sell many animals that I write about on this site. I love all animals and love writing about them.