Diplodactylus galeatus eye infection

I’ve not been keeping this species for long  (only a few months), and was horrified to notice one day that my male had developed what looked to be a severe eye infection in his right eye.  Just a day prior, all had looked completely  normal.  As I write this, it has now been almost five weeks since the onset of the infection and it has cleared completely and he seems to have recovered good vision in the right eye.  Below are photos documenting the progress of the infection, and the treatments used. Special thanks to Dr. Rob Ossiboff for providing diagnostic insights and treatment advice.

Day 1 – Terramycin ointment was applied 2x per day to help aid in fighting the infection and to keep the eye hydrated.  The gecko was rubbing his eye on the sides of the enclosure for the first few days, and was clearly irritated by it.  Throughout the entire ordeal though, not a single meal was missed remarkably.

Day 2-3

Day 4  – The fluid contained in the eye began to drain, and the eye itself looked rather bloody under the outermost crust.


Day 5 Trip to the Vet  (Avian and Exotic Vet, PDX OR)

The vet took some notes on husbandry and weighed him (3g).  Following that, a sedative was injected so that the crust accumulating on the eye could be removed without causing damage to the eye from his moving about, and to help ease stress.  When the needle went under his skin, he made a very strange noise! Within about ten seconds his body relaxed and they set him on a doplar to measure heart rate.   It was very faint but audible when standing close to the machine.  They applied some lubricant to help work the hardened tissue off, and after a few minutes of very gentle tugging at the crust, it came off.  His eye had a clear pus on the lower half, and the pupil looked enlarged and somewhat diffused.  Unfortunately I don’t have pictures of the eye immediately after removal of the crust, so these will have to do.

Day 5-9 Gentamycin applied 3x a day to the eyeball, with observation to ensure that the medication was not being licked off (didn’t appear to be).  Sand substrate was removed and replaced with paper towel, and misting was done daily instead of 2x a week. He was very thirsty following the ‘surgery’.

Day 10  The gecko began to lick off the medicine and become skittish when I tried to apply the ophthalmic ointment, so I switched to silver sulfadiazene per the recommendation of the vet as she didn’t think there were any recorded cases of silver sulfa causing problems even when consumed in seemingly large quantities. At this stage the eye was looking enormously better.  Ophthalmic ointments were applied for a total of one week.

Day 11-14 The gecko shed his skin but the skin became stuck on his eyeball.

Day  15-25 The gecko shed his skin a second time and the skin again became stuck on the eyeball.  Sometime during this period, the vet suggested to wash the eye with saline solution to loosen the skin.  Unfortunately this didn’t work and just dried out his skin for the next few days.

Day 26 After ordering the finest point tweezers I could find on amazon, I took the gecko out and tried to remove the thick later of crust over the eyeball, and miraculously, it came off! After pulling gently at the little bit of excess skin lining his eye, the entire piece came off without any signs of damage or distress.  Even more miraculously, his eye appeared to be in near perfect condition!

Day 45- still no signs of the infection coming back or of any long term damage to the eye. Calcium sand was replaced with ‘white desert’ Reptisand per the recommendation of Nathan Hall, and a black plastic hide that contained coco fiber was replaced with a cork hide on the humid side (no coco fiber). Damage to the eye from improper substrate or a fluke substrate irritation remains a possible cause.

*update* 4 months after taking this gecko to the vet he has remained healthy and free of observable negative effects of the eye infection, and he has gained 2.5 grams.  His vision in that eye seems to be back to normal.

*update* it’s now been over a year since this infection and the gecko shows no damage to the eye and appears to be in excellent health.  Weight is 6g and he has successfully mated.