Leopard Gecko Eyes
A leopard gecko’s eyes are the most unique thing about its species. It is what distinguishes them from other species of geckos and makes them look all cute and cuddly. It is also what they depend on for their survival.
Leopard geckos use their eyes, which are sensitive to light, to help them recognize the time of day in order to keep a balanced internal clock.
This also gives them great eyesight in dimmer settings, making their eyes a vital part of their well-being.
Unlike most other reptiles, leopard geckos are one of the few with functioning eyelids that can actually close.
This may all seem like random fun facts, but it is important that understand even the little things about your leopard gecko in order to care for them the best way that you can.
Here are some things you might want to know about your leopard gecko’s eyes, which can make or break their comfort in their enclosure as well as their overall health.
Quick Reference Section
How Good Is a Leopard Gecko’s Eyesight?
A leopard gecko’s eyes are located on each side of their heads, which gives them a great peripheral vision. Although, if we’re speaking generally, their eyesight is only just good enough for their survival.
They can see predators or prey that are at a close distance to them, but they do have a short focal length, meaning predators that are farther away might be able to grab them up first.
Luckily, your pet leopard gecko will not have to think about that except for when it comes to mealtime. This is why they prefer to eat live insects, to trigger that “hunt” instinct when they are wiggling around in front of them to see.
In general, their eyesight isn’t the greatest or the sharpest. They do, however, thrive in the night time and can see blues and greens in dim lighting or a light that can be compared to the moonlight.
Can Leopard Geckos See Color?
Leopard geckos eye optics are quite poor in comparison to humans. They are not dense enough, meaning they can’t see as many bow hues as we can.
However, they are blessed with nocturnal color vision, unlike us.
One thing that’s pretty cool about leopard geckos is that they have the unique ability to use the reflection of the moonlight to see colors. In moonlight or any dimly lit area, these lizards can see hues of blue and green.
Even humans can’t see color at night because we don’t have the same large cone photoreceptors that leopard geckos do. That’s better than anything with a backbone!
Leopard Gecko Night Vision
Leopard geckos are crepuscular animals, meaning that low lighting is when they thrive when it comes to their vision. Their eyes have three cones that can be used to pick up some colors, even in low lighting.
Their eyes are only sensitive to UV, blue, and green, which are all the colors and lighting they can see.
Because their eyes are more sensitive to light, leopard geckos are gifted with impeccable night vision. These nocturnal beings have evolved to adapt to their night-dwelling ways, giving them the upper hand when it comes to both their predators and their prey.
Night Lighting in Your Leopard Gecko’s Tank
When it comes to domesticated leopard geckos, like your pet, you don’t really need to consider their night vision uses in the wilderness, but the way you set up your lighting in their enclosure should be your main concern.
Owners should use UVB light as artificial sunlight for basking and regulating their temperatures during the day, which is very important for their health and happiness. Some owners think that a red or blue night light will benefit them at night, but that is not necessarily true.
Leopard geckos can see red night lamps, so if you must use lamps to warm up your leopard gecko’s tank, it is recommended you use blue or black lights instead of red.
These lights are dimmer and will not disturb them as much as red lights would, as they will mimic the light of the moon by keeping the tank only dimly lit. However, these should only be left on for a few hours while supervised, as they are still a source of light that their eyes can detect.
Leopard geckos actually like a drop in temperature and can withstand to about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. If your home is any cooler than that, then they may need a heat source at night.
Since your leopard gecko’s sleep cycle and overall wellbeing counts on you getting the right warmth and lighting for them, not educating yourself on these options can be detrimental.
Check out this video by YouTuber, GoHerping, to learn more about the differences in lights to use for their enclosure:
All in all, it is best to use a heating pad or ceramic heat bulb in order not to disrupt your leopard gecko’s sleep cycle with incorrect lighting. These nocturnal lizards do not need to be exposed to any light at all during the night time, as it can stress them out and mess up their natural cycles.
Eye Defects in Leopard Geckos
It is not uncommon for leopard geckos to suffer eye ailments, but they are usually due to poor husbandry or their environment. You must know what these issues are so that you can start trying to prevent these issues early on.
Because these lizards have large eyes that are not proportionate to the size of their heads, they may suffer more ocular issues than most animals. They also have specific humidity and nutritional needs in order to keep their eyes in the best shape possible.
Unfortunately, some leopard geckos are blind due to issues with inbreeding or other gene-related issues. Sometimes leopard geckos are just born blind, without any other concerns.
It is possible for your leopard gecko to go blind and many owners can still care for blind leopard geckos since they have good hearing and can sense movement. They are completely fine without their sight, but you must do your research on how to correctly care for your blind leopard gecko.
One common issue is just things getting stuck in their eyes. Because they’re so large, foreign objects might get lodged in their eyes, causing issues if it is not or cannot be removed as soon as possible.
Some issues might include trauma or eye ulcers due to foreign objects. If the cornea is damaged, an eye ulcer or small tear can be seen and will be very painful for your leopard gecko.
If this is the eye issue they are having, you will see them trying to shut their eye, licking it with their tongue, or attempting to rub it with their foot.
Abscess or Infection
Their eyes can also easily develop an abscess if it was punctured in some way then left to become an infection. You can identify any abscess by looking for a bump under your leopard gecko’s eye.
These types of scratches can occur due to anything from an insect bite to your pet accidentally scratching themselves. This can also be a result of a fight between two cohabiting geckos since they do not like to be caged with other geckos.
Eye Issues With Shedding
Most reptiles will shed regularly, and for your leopard gecko, this includes their eyelid skin. Sometimes this thin layer of skin can get stuck around their eye when the conditions are too dry or not humid enough.
You should always keep an eye on your leopard gecko during shedding season, as the skin left on their eye may stick and lead to infection as well.
You should not usually disturb your pet while it is shedding, but if they need some extra help, you might see them rub their eyes or blink more frequently.
This does not mean you should try to remove it yourself! Take your leopard gecko to the vet and allow them to care for your lizard.
However, the whole point of mentioning this issue is so that you can place preventative methods. In this case, that means making sure that the humidity in your leopard gecko’s moist hide is at a healthy level.
Shedding issues can also be due to a low level of vitamin A, so make sure you are giving your pet good vitamin or mineral supplements. Gut loading and calcium dusting their food are crucial.
Leopard geckos can also suffer from conjunctivitis, or pinkeye, which is a bacterial infection, causing inflammation of the tissue of the lining of their eyelids.
Besides swelling and redness, you might see symptoms such as closed eyelids, some discharge, and maybe a bulge around their eye area.
This bacteria is usually a result of an unclean tank so if you fail to care for your leopard gecko or don’t maintain the hygiene of their tank, it may result in eye loss. Get some antibiotic eye drops from your vet and clean that tank!
If your leopard gecko’s eyes are looking buggy or protrude out of its socket, they could have a serious, but rare eye condition called Exophthalmos Disease, also known as Proptosis. This may be due to an abnormality in their extraocular muscle and at the juncture of tissue deposition.
Leaving Proptosis untreated will cause your leopard gecko’s eyelid to stop closing completely, which can lead to their cornea drying out, which will then lead to a lot of damage. Their eyelids protect their eyes from external damage, so without it, there can be some serious problems.
You must take your leopard gecko to the veterinarian immediately to release any anguish they are in. The vet will likely have to surgically remove their eye, unfortunately, in this case.
Preventing Eye Problems
With these problems comes the important realization that it can all be prevented through proper care if it is not a genetic issue. Being proactive and making the effort to prevent these eye problems starts with educating yourself on the risks.
Knowing what risks are at hand, you must also know the proper prevention methods in order to give your leopard gecko a comfortable, full life.
- Maintain and clean your leopard gecko’s environment. Observe and make sure you are always keeping their tank clean and free of waste, old food, and dirt. Upkeep their water and substrate.
- Make sure their environment is at the correct temperature, humidity, and light. You should always be keeping a close eye on your numbers during night and day times, and especially during their important life stages like shedding and breeding.
- This deserves it’s very own step: Check their humidity hide. Having a moist hide is crucial for regulating their body temperature and to assist them during shedding season.
- Choosing the right substrate. This will save you a lot of hurt and money in the long run. The substrate you choose can not only cause your leopard gecko to have digestive issues but if it gets into their eye, it can be detrimental.
- Keep sharp things out of their enclosure. You want to keep an eye out for any sharp things in your leopard gecko’s tank. Use smooth items instead.
- Make sure you are feeding your leopard gecko the appropriate amount of vitamins and mineral supplements. You should always make sure you are feeding them a wholesome, well-rounded diet.
If your leopard gecko’s health is important to you, you should pay attention to their eyes. Of course, taking care of your gecko means paying attention to all its needs, but some important issues come with their adorable, curious eyes.
Now that you know a little more about how their eyes work, how good their eyesight is, and how to prevent common issues with leopard gecko eyes, you are many steps closer to being the best owner they could ask for!
As Tony Montana said in Scarface, “The eyes, Chico. They never lie.”