Have you ever noticed your hamster’s eyes bulging? If you aren’t used to the sight, it might cause you to panic right there and then. Why do hamsters’ eyes bulge in the first place?
Exophthalmos, also called proptosis, is the condition that causes the eyes of hamsters to bulge out of the sockets. While all species are disposed to eye protrusion, most of the time, an underlying health issue is responsible for the condition.
The eyes of hamsters can also bulge because of trauma, an eye infection, abscess that puts some pressure on the eye, glaucoma, or dental disease. Poor hygiene and allergies can also make hamsters’ eyes bulge or protrude.
It is also important to avoid squeezing your pet hamster because it can also make their eyes pop out. Maintain cleanliness in the enclosure or cage of your hamster and check for any allergy triggers in the food, bedding, or the environment as a whole. The best way to ensure that your hamster doesn’t suffer is to take him to the veterinarian for emergency treatment.
Can a Hamster’s Eyes Pop Out?
Bulging eyes are a common condition in hamsters. The following are the symptoms of exophthalmos:
- Change in the color of the eyes
- Crusting around the eyes
- Difficulties in eating
- Tears or eye discharge
- Pawing at the face
- Swollen eye
- Visual impairment, which includes trouble navigating the enclosure
- Weight loss
However, the most disturbing symptom takes place when the eye goes out of the socket.
As stated earlier, hamsters’ eyes bulge because of several reasons as discussed below:
Cheek and tooth abscesses or a tumor in the cheek pouch can cause bulging eyes in hamsters. This is because the pressure from the abscess or tumor causes the eye to protrude from the socket.
The abscess itself and the eye protrusion are both painful so a speed treatment by the vet is necessary. Oral antibiotics can effectively treat abscesses. Draining and lancing can also alleviate pressure and give the eye a chance to recover provided that it hasn’t popped out of its socket yet.
If it seems like the eye of your hamster is sticking out of the socket, your pet animal might be suffering from an allergy. Hamsters can become allergic to food, bedding, and allergens present in the air like perfumes and sprays.
More often than not, you can easily clear up the symptoms once you remove the main cause of the allergy. But if you don’t notice any signs, this might turn into a more serious condition that might risk losing the eye altogether.
A bulging eye in hamsters is sometimes the result of dental abnormalities. If this is the case, your hamster needs a corrective dental procedure to fix the alignment.
Sadly, it doesn’t work all the time, and the hamster’s eye might need to be removed to ease away any discomfort or pain.
Eye infections like pink eye or conjunctivitis can make your hamster’s eye become inflamed, crusted, and red. It might ooze pus and may feel hot to the touch, turning so swollen to the point it protrudes or bulges from the socket.
There are several common causes behind eye infections such as:
- A foreign object inside the eye
- Bacteria from fresh food such as vegetables and fruits
- Dirty bedding
Eye infections unfortunately go away on their own. Your hamster must undergo a course of antibiotics to save the eye and clear the infection up.
A type of eye disorder, glaucoma occurs when both or one eye experiences an abnormal eye pressure. The eye of a hamster is filled with a watery fluid or aqueous humor. The amount of fluid produced by the eye is balanced out by the amount of fluid draining away through the microscopic channels. This flows back to the bloodstream then and creates the pressure the eye requires to retain its globe shape.
If there is too much fluid inside the eye or it cannot escape, it increases the pressure within the globe and makes the eye protrude. If left untreated early on, glaucoma can result in irreversible blindness.
Another common reason why hamsters develop exophthalmos is because of poor cage hygiene, mainly because this harbors bacteria that can cause sickness in your little pet. Spilled water, for example, can make mold form on the bedding, causing bacterial infections to be passed on to the hamster.
Similarly, ammonia in the urine can build up and result in issues with the eyes once they come into close contact with the urine.
Mishandling and Trauma
Trauma is one of the main reasons why hamsters suffer from exophthalmos. Hamsters don’t have good eyesight, causing them to bump into sharp or large objects. Your hamster’s bedding may also stick to his eye, damage it, and stop it from blinking. The eye will then become protruded after some time.
Your hamster’s eyes may also occasionally get displaced if you restrain him too tightly by grabbing his skin at the back of the neck. One more common cause is if you squeeze your hamster too hard or if someone, unfortunately, steps on the little animal. This is quite common with kids who are not aware of how to properly handle pets.
Hamsters are fragile and small, so owners need to learn how to handle them the right way, maintaining a gentle but firm grip to avoid dropping them.
Can a Hamster’s Eyes Fall Out?
Hamsters’ eyes can dry up and in the most extreme cases, even fall out after several days of being out of their sockets. The eyes can become so enlarged to the point can no longer close or blink.
The eyeball cannot go back in anymore once it falls out of the socket. It won’t also take longer for the hamster to die after this condition takes place, with most vets suggesting euthanasia if undergoing a surgical procedure is no longer possible. Due to their small size, surgery on hamsters is usually difficult and rarely succeeds.