Leopard geckos are seen at the veterinary clinic for an assortment of eye problems. Leopard gecko eyes seem to get things stuck in them, abscess, get infected, and have other issues much more commonly than we do with our own eyes and much of it can be attributed to husbandry and environmental factors. It is important to be able to recognize a possible problem before it is too late to help the eye, therefore this list of leopard gecko eye problems will come in handy if your gecko is squinting or you suspect he has an eye issue.
This is what your exotics vet will call something in your leopard gecko's eye that shouldn't be there, such as a piece of gravel or bedding, food, or something else that doesn't belong around an eye.
By using cotton tipped applicators, saline rinse, and sometimes even some eye lubrication, your vet should be able to remove the irritant from the affected eye. But sometimes the foreign body is so difficult to remove or the leopard gecko won't open his eye up 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 and not damage the eye.
The eye itself can be punctured, become infected and abscess but more commonly the area directly under the eye swells up and abscesses due to a wound. You may notice a bump under your leopard gecko's eye just suddenly appear one day. This could be attributed to a cricket or mealworm bite, or he could have scratched himself in his cage.
Regardless of the reason for the abscessation, your leopard gecko will need the abscess to be lanced by your vet and cleaned out. This will allow it to drain and get the infection cleaned out. The vet may use a scalpel blade or a needle to lance it and then gently express the pus out of the abscess. Then, depending on how bad the area around the eye is, your vet may send you home with eye drops and systemic antibiotics (usually injections that you give at home) or simply the injections.
When something gets stuck in your gecko's eye, such as bedding, or other trauma occurs to the eyeball itself, damage to the cornea can occur and an ulcer can result. An ulcer is basically a hole in the cornea and it can be a small spot or cover the entire eye.
Ulcers, as you can imagine, are very painful. Your gecko may be holding his eye shut or try to clean it with his tongue or be scratching it with his tiny foot. To diagnose an ulcer your exotics vet will use a special eye stain that will stick to the ulcer on the eye if there is one. Then they will use a black light to cause the stain to light up on the ulcer. 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.
Also known as "pink eye," conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the pink part that surrounds your leopard gecko's eye. This pink to red, fleshy part is called the conjunctiva. Leopard gecko eyes usually get bacterial conjunctivitis and require an antibiotic eye drop or ointment. They can get conjunctivitis from dirty water or environment that would harbor bacteria.
This is probably the worst type of eye problem, and the thankfully the least commonly seen one in leopard geckos. Proptosis is when the eyeball pops out of your leopard gecko's head. Really the only way this would ever happen is if your gecko gets squeezed so hard that his eye comes out. It usually has to be removed, as it will be hanging from the optic nerve, but sometimes it can be surgically replaced.
Sometimes leopard geckos are born blind due to congenital issues and other times trauma or other situations cause blindness. Regardless of the reason for being blind, leopard geckos should do just fine without their sight. You may need to help him eat since he could have a difficult time catching moving food, but otherwise he will live out his life in his regular enclosure just fine.
You can help prevent eye problems in your leopard gecko by keeping your enclosure clean, choose bedding that can't get stuck in eyes, don't squeeze your gecko but do get him checked out yearly by an exotics vet. Only you can keep your gecko happy and healthy. And by knowing what could go wrong with him is one way to help keep him healthy.