Why Does My Red Eared Slider have Puffy Eyes

Puffy eyes can be found in a wide range of captive turtles. Red-eared sliders, in particular, are predisposed to puffy eyes, which can be fatal if left untreated. Continue reading if you have a red-eared slider with puffy eyes! This article will look at the causes of puffy eyes in red-eared sliders, as well as the symptoms, treatment, and prevention options.

You may notice your red-eared slider squinting frequently or rubbing their eye. Your turtle’s eye may also be runny, or they may be unable to open one or both eyes. All of these are signs of puffy eyes in red-eared sliders. This is extremely harmful to turtles, especially aquatic turtles, who feed by sight. They are even at risk of starvation if their eyes are swollen shut.

Why Does My Red Eared Slider have Puffy Eyes?

The most common reasons that cause a red eared slider to have puffy eyes are vitamin A deficiency, poor water quality, eye trauma, and dehydration.

Vitamin A Deficiency

A lack of Vitamin A is the most common cause of puffy eyes in red-eared sliders. Sometimes, a turtle with a vitamin A deficiency also won’t open its eyes.  

When turtles become accustomed to a high-protein diet, it may be challenging to reintroduce vitamin A into their diet. If your turtle was raised on insects, fish, and earthworms, they might refuse to eat greens.

This is a major issue because turtles should be fed a diverse range of healthy foods, including plant and animal-based protein sources, to ensure a well-balanced diet.

How to Prevent: Feed your turtle a variety of foods that meet all its nutritional requirements. Red-eared sliders should be fed vitamin A-rich foods, especially since they are prone to puffy eyes. Check out my list of the vitamins that turtles need to learn more.

How to Treat: If you think that a vitamin A deficiency causes your red-eared slider’s puffy eyes, I suggest you give them these vitamin A turtle eye drops.

You should also introduce vitamin A-rich greens to your turtle’s diet as soon as possible. Dandelions, collard greens, and kale are examples of vitamin A-rich foods.

Turtle chows and pellets, as well as vitamin A supplements, can also be used to help your turtle treat puffy eyes. When combined with a change in diet, this is highly effective. If your turtle’s puffy eyes are caused by a vitamin A deficiency and are severe, your red-eared slider may require vitamin A injections to help solve the problem.

It’s important to take care of a vitamin A deficiency as fast as possible, as it can eventfully lead to a respiratory infection.

To learn more about different types of diseases, you should read my guide on how to tell if your red-eared slider is sick.

Poor Water Quality

Eye infections caused by poor water quality cause puffy eyes in red-eared sliders. Aquatic turtles are messy eaters, and the water in their tank can become contaminated with food and waste products, allowing dangerous fungi and bacteria to grow. Bacteria and fungi can infect your turtle’s eyes, causing infections and puffy eyes.

If you suspect your poor water quality is causing the puffy eyes, you should do a complete water change. Below is a video where I walk you through how to do this:

How to Prevent Bad Water Quality: It is best to invest in a good turtle tank filter to prevent puffy eyes in your red-eared slider. Ensure that your turtle’s tank has been properly disinfected and that all accessories have been cleaned thoroughly.

You should clean your turtle tank every other week and provide fresh filtered water. You could also feed your turtle in a separate tank that is easily cleaned. Doing so will keep your turtle’s eyes from becoming irritated and improve the water quality in its tank.

How to Treat: If your turtle has eye infections because of poor water quality, you should treat your pet with antibacterial/antifungal drops and creams. If the infection has spread throughout your turtle’s body, you will need to treat it with injectable medications.

Eye Trauma

A recent eye trauma that your pet may have faced could cause puffy eyes. This can happen if your turtle got into a fight with another turtle, poked itself, or if accessories in the tank poked their eye.

How to Prevent: To avoid puffy eyes in your turtle due to eye trauma, remove any potentially harmful accessories from its tank, such as substrate or plants with hard stems. It would also be best to keep aggressive turtles apart to both be comfortable and healthy.

How to Treat: If your turtle has recently suffered eye trauma due to a fight with another turtle, it is best to separate the turtles and let your red-eared slider heal first. You should quarantine your turtle to give their eye time to heal. You should take your turtle to the vet to ensure that the eye trauma does not worsen.


Dehydration might be the final cause of puffy eyes in red-eared sliders. While this is not usually a cause for concern in healthy turtles, it could happen to turtles in poor health. This is due to the turtle’s ability to lose water through its eye tissues rapidly.

How to Prevent: Turtles should always have access to clean, fresh water to avoid dehydration. If you have a box turtle, make sure their water bowl is easily accessible.

How to Treat: Give your turtle clean water regularly to treat puffy eyes caused by dehydration. You should also check the temperature and humidity levels in their tank. The water temperature in their tank should be between 77- and 82-degrees Fahrenheit. The basking area should be between 90- and 95-degrees Fahrenheit.

In terms of humidity, the humidity level in the tank should be around 70%. Digital hygrometers and thermometers can be used to keep your water temperature, basking temperature, and humidity levels at optimal levels.


If you believe your turtle’s condition is more serious, take it to a veterinarian and have it inspected. It could be a more serious medical condition that necessitates medication or surgery. If your turtle’s puffy eyes causes your red eared slider to stop eating, you should take them to the vet right away.

While red-eared sliders are prone to puffy eyes, they are easily avoidable if you keep your turtle’s diet and the environment under control. As reptile owners, we must do everything possible to keep our aquatic friends healthy. We hope this article has helped you understand the cause of your turtle’s puffy eyes as well as how to treat them. Good luck!

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