Why Is My Leopard Gecko Closing His Eyes?

Why Is My Leopard Gecko Closing His Eyes?

As a leopard gecko owner, you may notice your gecko frequently closing his eyes. This common behavior can indicate a few different things, ranging from normal resting to signs of illness. In this comprehensive article, I will cover all the reasons a leopard gecko may close his eyes and how to tell the difference between normal and concerning causes.

Normal Reasons for Closed Eyes

There are several harmless reasons why your leopard gecko may sit with his eyes closed:

Resting or Sleeping

Like many reptiles, leopard geckos will close their eyes when they are sleeping or resting. Their sleep cycles will involve periods of total eyes-closed resting interspersed with some open-eyed dozing. Expect your gecko to spend a fair amount of time with eyes closed when he is winding down at night or having a nap. This is normal reptile behavior.

Avoiding Bright Light

Direct bright light can be irritating to leopard geckos’ sensitive eyes. If the tank environment is too brightly lit, your gecko may react by closing his eyes or turning away. Try providing a shaded area he can retreat to if the light seems excessive. Turning off overhead lights and using just an undertank heating mat can also help.

Feeling Comfortable and Secure

When a leopard gecko feels safe and content in his environment, he may show this by relaxing with eyes closed while soaking up heat. Closing the eyes demonstrates he is at ease and not feeling threatened. If your gecko has his eyes closed while comfortably basking, he is probably quite happy and healthy.

Shedding Cycle

During the shedding process, the old skin peels across the leopard gecko’s eyes. This can cause their eyes to appear closed as the old skin covers the eyes before being shed off. Shedding can take 1-2 weeks, so eye closing may persist while shedding that old skin layer.


Some leopard geckos are born with genetic defects that render them partially or fully blind. A blind leopard gecko often keeps his eyes closed since vision is limited. But blind geckos can still live full, healthy lives relying on their other senses.

Concerning Causes of Closed Eyes

While the above reasons are benign, other times closed eyes signal a health problem:

Illness or Injury

Eye closing can be a symptom of underlying illness or injury in leopard geckos. Infection, respiratory disease, dehydration, neurological issues, and other problems may make a gecko feel unwell and want to keep eyes shut. Always have a reptile vet examine any gecko closing eyes along with other symptoms.

Irritation from Impaction

Intestinal impaction causes painful constipation and irritation. A gecko impacted with undigested substrate or other material may keep eyes closed while straining to pass feces. Impaction requires treatment to clear the blockage.

Stuck Shed Around Eyes

When eye caps fail to come off during shedding, they can adhere tightly around the eyes. The gecko is forced to keep eyes closed until the stuck shed can be gently removed using a damp cotton swab after soaking. Prevent stuck shed with proper humidity.

Foreign Object in Eye

Getting substrate, dust, or other debris in the eyes can be quite irritating. The gecko will instinctively close eyes tightly to avoid worsening the irritation. Gently flush the eye with sterile saline to try removing the particle. Seek vet assistance if the eye stays closed.


Excessive heat over 90°F can make a leopard gecko close his eyes while attempting to limit activity and cool down. Ensure the warm end stays under 95°F and the gecko has a cooler area to retreat to when needed.

Calcium Deficiency

Lack of calcium over time can cause eye twitching, swelling, and closure in severe cases. Without enough calcium, the body has trouble functioning normally. Address any diet issues and begin calcium supplementation if eye issues arise.

Poor Lighting

Very low light conditions can lead to eye closure in leopard geckos as their pupils struggle to properly adjust. Ensure the tank has appropriate lighting including UVB exposure if closed eyes develop and persist.

Is My Gecko’s Eye Closing Normal or Concerning?

Use these signs to determine if your leopard gecko’s closed eyes are due to illness and require treatment:

Concerning Eye Closure:

  • Paired with lethargy, weakness, hiding, or appetite changes
  • Lasting for longer than a day or two
  • Eyes appear swollen, crusty, weepy, or irritated when open
  • Not correlated to resting, sleeping, or shedding times
  • Gecko cannot open eyes fully upon gentle encouragement

Normal Eye Closure:

  • During daily sleep/rest cycles and at night
  • Brief closure while basking to relax
  • When calmly exploring environment
  • Closure linked to blue phase of shedding cycle
  • Eyes appear clear and normal when open
  • Returns to open eyes and activity quickly when disturbed

See a reptile vet if the eye closure seems associated with other symptoms, pain, irritation, or lethargy. random, short-term eye closing is generally nothing to worry about in healthy geckos.

Providing Supportive Care

While determining the cause with your vet, provide supportive care:

  • Ensure temperatures and humidity are ideal.
  • Give warm soaks for hydration if dehydrated.
  • Supplement nutrients if deficient.
  • Increase misting and use artificial tears if eyes irritated.
  • Separate habitat if infection possible.
  • Keep handling/disturbance minimal.
  • Check that lighting, hides, and setup meet needs.
  • Avoid bright lights that could worsen eye irritation.
  • Consider assist feeding if gecko loses appetite.

With attentive home care under veterinary guidance, issues causing eye closure often resolve or are managed with treatment. Never ignore changes in eye health.

How to Handle a Leopard Gecko Keeping Eyes Closed

When interacting with a leopard gecko exhibiting kept-closed eyes, adhere to these handling guidelines:

  • Avoid handling completely if gecko seems distressed.
  • Wash hands before and after handling.
  • Approach slowly and gently pick up gecko.
  • Provide secure gentle support under gecko’s body and legs.
  • Limit handling time to essential activities like soaks.
  • Watch for signs of pain like writhing or biting.
  • Return gecko to enclosure promptly if showing stress.
  • Never forcefully pry open the eyes. Allow gecko to open eyes voluntarily.
  • Do not restrain or restrict gecko’s head. Keep motion free.
  • Follow vet instructions for applying medications if prescribed.
  • Check enclosure frequently for signs of worsening condition.

With careful, limited handling, eye closure from illness or injury can improve with appropriate treatment and time.

Can Leopard Geckos See With Eyes Closed?

Leopard geckos cannot actively see while their eyes are fully closed. But they still maintain some ability to sense light, motion, and shapes in front of them with eyes closed by detecting changes in light through the eyelids. Their other senses like smell, vibration detection, and heat sensing also help compensate when vision is limited. Still ensure proper habitat furnishings so your leopard gecko can navigate easily even with eyes frequently closed.

Will Eye Closure Resolve On Its Own?

Eye closure from minor irritation or stuck shed may resolve on its own with time in a well-managed enclosure. But many other causes require veterinary diagnosis and treatment to fully resolve. Any eye symptoms lasting over 2 days, or paired with other signs of illness, should be evaluated by an exotic vet. Do not assume closed eyes will self-resolve. Get prompt veterinary assistance to diagnose the underlying cause.

Can Closed Eyes Lead to Permanent Damage?

If the underlying issue causing eye closure goes untreated, permanent damage is possible over time:

  • Chronic respiratory infections can scar the eyes.
  • Objects stuck in the eye can scratch the cornea.
  • Long term nutritional deficiencies can cause blindness.
  • Severe calcium deficiency impacts eye muscles.
  • Eye caps adhered during multiple bad sheds causes harm.
  • Injuries, glaucoma and some diseases can blind leopard geckos.

Catching eye issues early maximizes the chances treatment can resolve the problem before lasting impairment occurs. Never let symptoms like closed eyes persist long term without a vet visit.

How is an Eye Infection or Irritation Treated?

If diagnosis reveals corneal irritation, infection or another type of eye problem, the vet may prescribe:

  • Oral or injected antibiotics to clear bacterial infection
  • Antifungal medication for fungal causes
  • Artificial tears/saline to flush out irritants
  • Steroid eye drops to reduce swelling and inflammation
  • Pain medication if eye damage is severe
  • Antiviral medication for some viral sources
  • Removal of eye caps stuck during shedding
  • Correcting husbandry issues like dehydration or poor heating that contributed to the problem

With proper treatment guided by vet testing and exam findings, most eye issues in leopard geckos can be successfully managed.

How Can I Prevent Eye Problems in the Future?

You can reduce the chances of closed eyes reoccurring by:

  • Carefully monitoring temperatures and humidity in the enclosure
  • Providing a humidity hide and regular misting
  • Ensuring lighting meets vitamin D3 and light exposure needs
  • Using only smooth, digestible substrates that avoid impaction
  • Feeding a balanced, gutloaded diet with proper calcium
  • Cleaning the habitat frequently to prevent bacterial issues
  • Inspecting for loose substrate in eyes after digging
  • Limiting handling and disturbance during blue shedding phase
  • Being vigilant for early eye symptoms and seeking prompt vet care

With attentive husbandry and prompt treatment when needed, eye problems leading to closure can often be avoided in the future.

FAQ Common Questions about Leopard Geckos Keeping Eyes Closed

1. Why won’t my leopard gecko open his eyes?

The most common reasons are illness, injury, irritation, impaction causing straining, being in blue phase before shedding, or simply resting. Seek vet assistance if it persists beyond a day or two to diagnose the cause.

2. Do leopard geckos close their eyes when they sleep?

Yes, it is completely normal for leopard geckos to sleep with eyes fully closed. They close their eyes while dozing just like humans. Expect periods of eyes-closed rest daily, especially at night.

3. Can leopard geckos go blind from keeping eyes closed?

If a medical issue like chronic infection or nutritional deficiency is causing long term eye closure, blindness can eventually occur. Catching problems early and treating the underlying cause prevents permanent damage from prolonged closure.

4. Why does my leopard gecko close one eye?

Closing just one eye can signal irritation or injury localized to that eye. It allows them to still monitor surroundings with the unaffected eye while resting the irritated one. Have your exotic vet examine any one-sided eye closure.

5. Do leopard geckos close their eyes when they shed?

Yes, you will notice increased eye closing in the days before shed as the eye caps begin separating. The blue color of the old skin and caps over their eyes leads them to keep eyes closed more often leading up to the actual shed.

6. Can an eye cap get stuck with eye closed?

It is possible for the old eye cap to adhere and not come off as it should during shed. Soaking and gently wiping with a damp cotton swab can remove stuck shed around a closed eye under veterinary guidance.

7. Do leopard geckos squint or close one eye in bright light?

Just like humans squinting in sunlight, leopard geckos may partially close or squint one eye if the habitat lighting suddenly seems too bright. Provide a shaded area within the enclosure to give an escape from glare.

8. Can sand cause a leopard gecko to keep its eyes closed?

Yes, loose sand can irritate the eyes if accidentally kicked into the gecko’s face, leading to eye closing. Impaction from eating sand can also cause straining and discomfort making them unwilling to open their eyes. Use a safer substrate.

9. Why does my leopard gecko always have his eyes closed except to eat?

Significant lethargy and eye closure paired with loss of appetite can signal illness, metabolic issues, dehydration or other problems requiring veterinary diagnosis and treatment. Schedule an appointment if these symptoms persist.

10. Do leopard geckos close their eyes when they are about to shed?

Increased eye closure often does signal the onset of a shed cycle as the old skin separates and covers the eyes. Eye caps sliding over the eyes leads them to keep eyes closed more often just prior to the actual shedding process.


Leopard geckos keep their eyes closed for a variety of reasons, ranging from normal rest to signs of medical problems requiring attention. Pay close attention to any changes in eye health along with associated symptoms to determine if vet assistance is needed. With attentive husbandry and swift treatment when issues arise, most causes of eye closure can be appropriately managed.

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