Pop eye in goldfish: Do you have a goldfish with big eyes?

Have you got a goldfish with big eyes? Have you suddenly noticed your fish’s eyes look bigger than normal? You may be seeing a condition called “Pop Eye”.

Pop eye, also sometimes known as “exophthalmia” isn’t strictly a disease in and of itself, but rather, it is the result of another underlying issue or infection. It causes one or both of the eyes of the goldfish to protrude from the socket to some degree, ranging from a slight bulge to quite pronounced, depending on the severity of the condition.

The eye may also appear cloudy, but this is not always the case. If you notice your goldfish has big eyes, you should address the issue sooner rather than later, as it can lead to blindness.

Don’t forget though – some types of fancy goldfish are supposed to have big eyes. Goldfish like the Black Moor have telescope-style eyes, which is perfectly normal and not a sign that something is wrong.

What is pop eye?

The actual swelling and protrusion of the eye itself is caused by a buildup of excess fluid from the eye tissue leaking into the area behind the eyeball, causing it to push the eyeball outwards.

If this is accompanied by clouding of the eye, this indicates scarring and damage to the cornea as well, which may affect the vision. Secondary bacterial infections may also accompany pop eye.

Symptoms of pop eye in goldfish

Be on the alert for the following indications and symptoms of pop eye in goldfish:

  • Big eyes: A visible swelling of either one or both of the eyes
  • Potentially cloudy or occluded-looking discoloration of the cornea
  • Bloodstained eyes if the condition is caused by injury
  • In extreme cases, rupture of the eye

What causes pop eye?

There are a wide variety of reasons for why your fish might be afflicted with pop eye, and one of the most common of these is long-term exposure to poor quality water, to the extent that it is detrimental to the health of your goldfish without becoming immediately fatal.

However, if only one eye is affected, water quality is unlikely to be the problem. If more than one fish within the tank are showing signs of pop eye, water quality is almost certainly to blame.

Pop eye can also be caused by a physical injury, such as damaging the eye on tank furniture, or as the result of a fight with another fish.

Bacterial or parasitic infections are the other common cause of pop eye in fish, and this usually affects both eyes, or begins with one eye and spreads to the other.

How can pop eye be treated?

How your goldfish can be treated for pop eye depends very much on finding out what caused the condition and dealing with it accordingly.

In the case of infection, affected fish should be moved to a quarantine tank and treated with antibiotics, if necessary.

Where poor water quality is the culprit, getting the tank water back into healthy parameters is key, with regular water changes.

If the condition has been caused by physical injury to the eye, allowing the eye time to heal is important, and you may wish to consider the potential addition of aquarium salt to help to aid with healing too.

If vision has been lost in the eye due to pop eye, regardless of how it occurred, however, the fish will remain blind for life.

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