Why Won't My Turtle Open Its Eyes

Turtles can become our close companions, so it is only natural for you to worry about them. A frequent problem that persists in pet turtles is eye issues. This article will cover the main reasons why your turtle won’t open it’s eyes.

Why won’t my turtle open its eyes?

If your turtle has any sort of discharge in or around their eye, then your turtle won’t open their eyes because they likely have a eye infection.

However, there are definitely other reasons why your turtle doesn’t open it’s eyes. For example, it might have an abrasion, or a vitamin deficiency. And then of course, there is also the chance that your turtle is just tired.

Below I will go into more detail on all of the causes mentioned above.

Eye infection

As mentioned earlier, eye infections are one of the main reasons why your turtle won’t open its eye. Luckily, there are usually pretty clear signs when your turtle has an eye infection. For example, your turtle might have extra discharge around their eyes.

Their eyelids might also be swollen. In extreme cases, your turtle’s eyelid can even get so swollen that they can’t ever open their eyes. A turtle with an eye infection might also have discharge released from their nose. Lastly, an eye infection can also cause a change in your turtle’s routine behavior.

While an eye infection might seem severe, you will be happy to know that it is usually easy to fix if it is caught early enough. There are really two options when it comes to healing your turtles eye infection. You can either get an eye solution, or you can try to correct the issue that is causing the eye infection.

Eye drops

Since it can sometimes be difficult to nail down an exact cause of the eye infection, I suggest you just buy an eye drop solution.

turtle eye drops

It’s also a good thing to have on hand just in case you have to use it again. I have had very good experiences using eye drops.

If you give these drops to them early enough, it should cure the infection.

Fixing environmental issues

Now if you elect to reverse the cause if the eye infection, I suggest you start with their water. I have found that most eye infections are a result of inadequate water conditions. First of all, you should ensure that you have the proper temperature for your turtle. You should know that different turtle species can have a wide range in temperature requirements. Read my guide on what temperature should my turtle tank be?

Next, you should make sure that you don’t have hard water. I suggest using a water conditioner to ensure that your water is adequate for your turtle.

Below is an example of a turtle living in poor water conditions. As you can see, the turtle has developed an eye infection that has swollen its eyes shut. The turtle also has a respiratory infection.

A great way to ensure healthy water conditions for your turtle is to have a high quality turtle tank filter. It is important that your filter is able to clean all of the water in the tank. The two biggest mistakes I see people make are getting a cheap filter and getting a filter that isn’t powerful enough for their tank.

The last thing I would check is that you have a proper basking platform. Many turtles will develop an eye infection if the either don’t have a place to get dry, or if they don’t have a place to get warm.  To learn more, you should check out the best turtle basking platform.

You should know that a turtle eye infection might be a sign of a respiratory infection. This is probably the case if your turtle has other symptoms such as twitching or making noises.

Now that you are familiar with a turtle eye infection, you should learn about what else could be causing your turtle to not open its eye.


It is also common for pet turtles to get an abrasion in their eyes. This simply mean that a foreign object makes contact with your turtle’s eyeball. Obviously, the severity of an abrasion varies widely. That being said, most abrasions should be able to heal by themselves.

Many turtles get abrasions when part of their substrate comes in contact with their eyes. This could be from a coconut chip, or even from small particles like sand. I would just suggest that you keep an eye on your turtle and make sure that their substrate isn’t a problem.

If your turtle’s abrasion doesn’t get better in a couple days. You can certainly try eye drops. However, if you think it is a little more serious, I suggest you take your turtle to the vet. They will hopefully be able to asses the severity of the abrasion, as well as the possible treatment options.

Vitamin A deficiency

One of the most common vitamin deficiencies for turtles is vitamin A. Also known as hypovitaminosis, a vitamin A deficiency can certainly cause pain in your turtle’s eye. Subsequently, your turtle might keep their eyes closed if it helps relieve the pain.

As one would expect, the best way to treat this deficiency is by feeding your turtle food that is high in Vitamin A. Some great options include bell peppers, carrots, and squash. There are also some Vitamin A supplements that you can find online for turtles. Here is a great eye solution for your turtle which helps prevent vitamin a deficiencies and inflamed eyes.

turtle eye drops for vitamins

To learn more about a turtle’s dietary recommendations, you should check out my guide on what vitamins do turtles need.


Finally, your turtle might not be opening its eyes because it is simply tired. Turtles can have strange sleep patterns, so there is a chance that theirs is not on the same cycle as yours. You can help adjust your turtle sleep cycle by keeping all lights off during the nighttime.

Additionally, you can try moving your turtle’s tank closer to a window. This will help match their sleep cycle up with yours.


I hope this article helped explain to you all of the many reasons why your turtle might not be opening their eyes. If I could get one thing across at the end, I would just like to reiterate that this is a very common phenomenon among turtle owners.

There is no need to be scared or discouraged if your turtle refuses to open its eyes. Just stick to this guide, and you should be able to identify the problem and fix it.

Additionally, you should make sure that you are providing an adequate habitat for your turtle that matches all of their environmental needs.

Last of all, if your turtle doesn’t have any other strange symptoms or changes in behavior, than your turtle might just be sleeping.

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