How Do Bearded Dragons See: Understanding Their Vision
Unlike humans, bearded dragons have eyes positioned on either side of their head, which gives them a wider range of vision. Bearded dragons also have a third eye, the parietal eye, at the top of their head.
The parietal eye is not used for seeing in the traditional sense but rather for detecting changes in light and dark. This unique feature helps bearded dragons to regulate their body temperature and circadian rhythms.
Bearded Dragon Eyesight
As mentioned, bearded dragons have two eyes on the sides of their head, providing them with a wide range of vision. Their eyes are large and bulbous, allowing them to see in all directions without moving their head.
They also have a third eye, the parietal eye, on the top of their head. This eye is sensitive to changes in light and dark but does not provide visual images like the other two.
The pupil of bearded dragons is a vertical slit, which allows them to control the amount of light entering their eye. They have excellent vision in bright and low light conditions due to their ability to dilate and constrict pupils.
The iris of bearded dragons is usually brown or yellow, and its color can change depending on the light conditions. It is located just behind the pupil and controls the light entering the eye.
The retina of bearded dragons contains photoreceptor cells responsible for sensing light and transmitting visual information to the brain. They have a high density of cone cells, which enable them to see in color and distinguish different shades of color.
They also have spectacles known as the brille, which refer to the transparent scale covering bearded dragons’ eyes. It helps to protect the eye and keep it moist. The spectacle is shed periodically as the bearded dragon grows, and a new one forms to replace it.
The structure of their eyes also allows them to see well in low-light conditions. They have a layer of cells behind their retina called the tapetum lucidum, which reflects light through the retina, increasing their sensitivity to light. This is why their eyes appear to glow in the dark.
Depth perception refers to the ability to perceive the distance of objects in three-dimensional space. This is important for animals, as it helps them navigate their environment, hunt for prey, and avoid predators.
Unlike humans with binocular vision, and can perceive depth by overlapping two slightly different images from each eye, bearded dragons have monocular vision. This means that each eye sees the world from a slightly different angle, but there is no overlapping of images.
Despite their monocular vision, bearded dragons still have some depth perception due to their ability to judge the size and distance of objects based on their visual cues. For example, they can use the size of an object to determine how far away it is. If an object appears small, it is likely far away; if it appears large, it is likely closer.
Bearded dragons also use other visual cues to judge distance, such as shading, texture, and perspective. For example, they can use shading to determine the shape of an object and whether it is flat or three-dimensional.
They can also use texture to determine whether an object is smooth or rough, which can help them judge its distance. Additionally, bearded dragons can use perspective to determine whether an object is moving toward or away from them.
What Affects Bearded Dragon Vision
Light and Temperature
Bearded dragons require adequate lighting to maintain good vision. They need access to both natural and artificial light sources. Natural light provides the full spectrum of light that bearded dragons need, including UVB and UVA rays.
Artificial light sources, such as UVB bulbs, can provide light for good vision. Without proper lighting, bearded dragons may develop eye problems, such as cataracts, which can lead to blindness.
Bearded dragons are cold-blooded animals and require a specific temperature range to maintain good vision. If the temperature is too low, their metabolism will slow down, and they will not be able to see as well.
If the temperature is too high, they may become dehydrated and have eye problems. The ideal temperature range for bearded dragons is between 104 to 107°F during the day and 70-75°F at night.
As bearded dragons age, their vision may start to decline. They may develop cataracts or other eye problems that can affect their ability to see. Older bearded dragons may also become less active, which can lead to a decrease in vision.
Another condition that can affect the eyesight of bearded dragons is metabolic bone disease (MBD). This occurs when a bearded dragon does not receive enough calcium and other nutrients, which can lead to weakened bones and skeletal deformities. In severe cases, MBD can also cause eye problems, such as a bulging or protruding eye, which can affect vision.
It’s also worth noting that bearded dragons, like other reptiles, may experience some changes in their vision as they shed their skin. During shedding, their eyes may become clouded or milky, temporarily affecting their vision. However, as I have experienced with my bearded dragon, this is usually a temporary condition and should resolve once the shedding process is complete.
Signs of Vision Problems in Bearded Dragons
One of the first signs of a vision problem in a bearded dragon is a behavior change. If your dragon is usually active and suddenly becomes lazy or disinterested in its surroundings, it may be a sign that it is having trouble seeing. Additionally, if your dragon is bumping into objects or misjudging distances, it may be a sign of a vision problem.
Another behavioral change to watch for is a lack of appetite. Bearded dragons with vision problems may have difficulty finding and capturing their prey, which can cause them to lose interest in food or eat less.
They may also have difficulty seeing their food and need hand-fed. If your bearded dragon has trouble seeing its food, it may be reluctant to eat. This can lead to weight loss and other health issues if not addressed.
Another sign of a vision problem in bearded dragons is an abnormality in their eyes. Some common eye problems in bearded dragons include:
- Eye infections
- Corneal ulcers
- Entropion (inward rolling of the eyelid)
If you notice any of these issues in your bearded dragon’s eyes, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately. These problems can lead to permanent vision loss or other health issues.
A veterinarian who specializes in reptiles can perform a thorough examination of your bearded dragon’s eyes, as well as their overall health, to determine the underlying cause of the eye abnormality. They can also provide appropriate treatment, including medications, surgical intervention, or other therapies.