With the sky rocketing popularity of bearded dragons, there are more people new to caring for a beardie than ever before right now.
This has resulted in more and more questions about caring for a pet bearded dragon being asked week in and week out without any signs of this slowing down.
We have already gone over many of the common bearded dragon questions that we see people asking on a regular basis but for today’s article, we want to take a look at caring for a blind bearded dragon.
Although caring for a blind bearded dragon can be a little more challenging than caring for a bearded dragon that can see, it can still be done with relative ease with a little prior planning and in most cases, there will be a minimal decrease in the quality of life of the beardie.
Due to seeing so many slightly different questions about caring for a blind bearded dragon, we wanted to collect them all in this single article and answer them all to try and help as many of our readers as possible better understand what they should be doing.
Can Bearded Dragons Go Blind?
Bearded dragons can go blind and there are some surprisingly common, often easily avoidable issues that can cause a bearded dragon to go blind.
Unfortunately, bearded dragons being blind or having serious sight issues from a very young age is becoming increasingly popular due to so many bearded dragon breeders keeping poor breeding lines without filtering out health issues.
Due to this becoming more and more popular, we think that the number of people having problems with their bearded dragon going blind over the coming years will rapidly increase so expect more and more people to be finding this article in the future.
We have seen some posts on social media saying that it is impossible for bearded dragons to go blind but this is not correct and these posts are not to be taken seriously!
Just like any other animal with eyes, bearded dragons can and will go blind in certain situations and although some of the common causes are easy to treat, once the bearded dragon is actually blind, it is usually not possible to revert the condition.
What Can Cause A Bearded Dragon To Go Blind?
The most common reasons that a bearded dragon may go blind include:-
- Injuries to the eye
We have not included issues with poor generics or issues with the diet of the bearded dragon as there is too much contradictory information out there on the exact way that these play into a bearded dragon going blind.
For example, a couple of years back, there were a number of posts circulating on social media saying that too much calcium in a bearded dragon’s diet can increase the chance of it going blind but to our knowledge, this is not correct.
Playing around with a healthy bearded dragon’s calcium intake can actually end up having the opposite effect too and cause problems with metabolic bone disease taking hold of your pet beardie.
As always, our advice is to seek professional advice from your local vet if you are in doubt rather than posts you see on the various social media sites.
Injuries To The Eye
The most common and often most overlooked reason that a pet bearded dragon may end up going blind is due to injuries to or around the eye.
Not only can this result in irreparable damage to the eye of the bearded dragon that can cause it to go blind but it can also cause an injury to the bearded dragon that can then end up getting infected but we will cover infection more below.
You have to realize that most decorations that are commonly used in a bearded dragon’s vivarium have some type of poking risk associated with it and due to many bearded dragons being some what docile, they can commonly end up poking themselves as they move around.
Over time there is an above average chance that your bearded dragon may end up poking itself in its eye and causing potential blindness.
Thankfully, this hazard is usually very easy to avoid in most vivarium setups as you can just strip any rogue branches off any wood features.
Things like plants and vines should be kept under control too and try to keep any zip ties that you use to secure cables cut short as the tail can potentially scratch the eye of your beardie.
Depending on the setup of your vivarium, infections can be common or very rare and the most important factor that usually dictates this is cleanliness.
You should usually be able to spot clean bearded dragon poop daily and keep your bearded dragons food and water fresh to drastically reduce the chances of infections in the vivarium though.
The four most common types of infection that you have to worry about with your beardie are:-
- Bacterial Infections
- Viral Infections
- Fungal Infections
- Parasitic Infections
As we mentioned earlier though, parasitic infections will be covered in their own section in the article below.
Fungal infections are rare in and around the eyes of bearded dragons too so they are usually not something that you have to worry about in most cases.
Bacterial infections tend to have the highest chance of causing issues with the eye of your bearded dragon though and some viral infections can be problematic too.
If you let your bearded dragon out of its vivarium on a regular basis then this can also increase the chances of your beardie picking up bacterial and viral infections even if you keep their vivarium in a pristine condition so keep this in mind too.
The trend in people “walking” their bearded dragon on a leash or harness is becoming increasingly popular too and this increases the risk further.
There is a good reason that most puppies need so many jabs before they can be walked around our streets and unfortunately, these jabs are usually not available for bearded dragons so there is a surprisingly high risk to them if walked in communal areas with other animals.
The most common parasite that will cause problems with your bearded dragon’s eyes are mites but there are some less common parasites that can be troublesome too.
Mites can be very common with reptiles and even if you do everything right and keep your bearded dragon’s vivarium clean, there is still a moderate chance of your beardie having problems with mites at least once.
Thankfully, mites are usually obvious giving you plenty of warning of their presence due to swelling around your bearded dragon’s eyes as well as a build up of mite poop around the eye too.
Even better than this, there are a number of cheap, easy to use, fast acting anti-mite treatments available from most local pet stores.
If you do want to take your bearded dragon to a vets for a checkup if you think it is having issues with mites then they may be able to prescribe a stronger treatment too.
This ensures that most problems with mites will not result in your bearded dragon going blind if you notice the mites early enough and treat them quickly.
Tumors in or around the eye of your bearded dragon can cause problems with blindness as well as a number of other issues.
In some cases, the tumor may be able to be removed by a vet with a relatively simple operation if you catch the tumor early enough and this is usually the best option.
If you do have the tumor removed, the issue will usually not persist and in most cases, there will be no long term problems.
Thankfully, tumors are less common in bearded dragons these days so this is often not something that most people will have to worry about.
As we touched on earlier in the article, deformities are unfortunately becoming increasingly common with bearded dragons due to how many breeders constantly inbreed over and over again.
Thankfully, there are still a large number of reputable breeders out there are you can usually find good recommendations for bearded dragon breeders online in your local area.
Please note though, if you already have your bearded dragon then it is too late to do anything about any potential deformities in the animal.
Thankfully though, it is rare that a deformity in a bearded dragon will end up causing blindness and in many cases, they will only cause minor issues.
In addition to this, sunken eyes in bearded dragons are not necessarily a deformity and a number of problems can cause this issue but we go into more detail on this in our article on sunken eyes in bearded dragons.
How Can You Tell If A Bearded Dragon Is Blind?
The two easiest ways to tell if a bearded dragon is blind or not is the finger test and the sky test with both being very simple.
You can try both to get a better idea of it your pet bearded dragon is actually blind or not but due to some bearded dragons being lazy, it is often a good idea to repeat these tests multiple times over the course of a week to catch your bearded dragon in different moods.
The Finger Test
The finger test is as simple as it sounds, you just move your finger around in front of your bearded dragon’s face to see if it reacts to the movement.
You usually only have to keep your finger around an inch away from the face of your bearded dragon but in some cases, even a bearded dragon that can see may still choose to just ignore you and stay still so its not the most accurate test.
In some cases, you may get a better result if you hold your bearded dragon’s favorite insect of plant based food in your fingers to see if your bearded dragon tracks the movement or not.
The problem with this is that the beardie may be blind and using its other senses to detect the food such its sense of smell so its eyes are not always needed for this test when done with food.
The Sky Test
The sky test can technically be done outdoors to get a similar effect but a bearded dragon may look at other things so it is usually better to do it with a window.
The sky test is based around holding your bearded dragon up against a window as most bearded dragons naturally look to the sky when looking out of a window.
Again, this is not a perfect test and can be flawed but there is definitely a correlation with bearded dragons looking up when they first start to look out of a window.
Some people say the window has to be facing the sun but this is not correct and any window with a clear sky can be used.
How Do You Feed A Blind Bearded Dragon?
It is usually very easy to feed a blind bearded dragon due to most beardies quickly getting used to the feeding spot in their vivarium and knowing they can get food from there.
Many people presume that you will have to hand feed your bearded dragon but this is not correct either as a blind bearded dragon will often smell out the food in its vivarium be it insects or veggies.
Another trick you can use is to include a strong smelling food with your bearded dragon’s meals such as cilantro but as we covered in our article going over feeding bearded dragons cilantro, it should be used in small amounts.
In our opinion, the best way to feed a blind bearded dragon is with the bearded dragon salad method as it keeps all of the food in one place and makes it much easier to add strong smelling foods like cilantro without overfeeding and our guide on bearded dragon salads should be able to help up with recipes.
Avoid Live Food
We would always recommend that you avoid live feeding a blind bearded dragon due to how much they can struggle to strike.
As we covered in our article going over treating a bearded dragon cricket bite, some live foods can bite your bearded dragon if they are not eaten quickly and then these bites can end up infected.
Most blind bearded dragons will not be able to strike and catch live food so going with a freeze dried option is usually better.
Not only are freeze dried insects cheaper than live but they can actually have a higher nutritional profile compared to their live counterparts too with the freeze dried option often being cheaper too.