When your hamster’s eye pops out, you understandably panic at first.
Our tip: stay calm.
In this article, we reveal 9 common reasons why your hamster’s eye comes out and what you can do about it.
Why does the hamster eye protrude?
If one or even both of your hamster’s eyes protrude from their sockets, it may be due to inflammation or a cyst, abscess or tumor. Also possible are injuries from a fall or fight.
Regardless of the cause, bulging eyes are an emergency that must be treated immediately by a veterinarian.
Causes, symptoms and consequences of bulging eyes in hamsters
The most obvious sign of the condition known in the trade as exophthalmos is the bulging of the eyes. One or both eyes protrude from the eye socket and may protrude significantly.
In addition, there may be:
excessive tear production
swelling of the face
For your hamster, an eye that pops out is extremely painful.
As a result, they often hide, stop eating, and may become apathetic or agitated. If necessary, the rodent may squeak or grind its teeth.
Both indicate the pain.
Exophthalmos is an absolute emergency, and not just because of the pain.
If you don’t act early, your hamster may lose one or both eyes or even die from the cause. So see a veterinarian immediately and get your pet treated.
Cause 1: Trauma
Hamsters are nimble and agile.
However, what helps them escape predators can also lead to dangerous situations if your hamster jumps awkwardly, falls, falls out of your hands, or bumps its head against an obstacle while fleeing a perceived danger.
Very hard surfaces are more risky than a fall onto soft bedding or a thick carpet.
The fall or impact presents several hazards that can lead to a bulging eye. Among them:
Increase of intracranial pressure
Bone fractures in the head and face area
Injuries caused by teeth hitting the jaw
Externally, these may be visible through swelling in the face.
Rising intracranial pressure, however, is not so easy to recognize as a layperson. If there was a violent bump, a blow or a fall on the head, the pressure may increase due to both bleeding and edema. This pushes the eyes out of their sockets from the inside.
On the other hand, if it is a fracture of the bony orbit, the eye may lack support.
Treatment is difficult in these cases.
The discomfort can be reduced by administering painkillers. It may also be necessary to press the protruding eye back into the socket and moisten it with eye drops.
However, if the pressure does not decrease, the eye will keep bulging out.
In these cases, the hamster’s condition and any chance of recovery must be weighed to determine how to proceed.
Cause 2: Tumors
Unfortunately, hamsters are not immune to cancer and benign growths.
Since these tumors can occur anywhere in the body, they are a possible cause of an exiting eye. This is true if the tumor is located in the brain or directly behind the eye.
As the growth grows, it exerts more and more pressure on the surrounding tissue. Often, therefore, the eye does not suddenly emerge from the eye socket, but a gradual change can be observed on close inspection.
If the tumor is directly behind the eye, the eye may be removed to save your hamster’s life. However, if the tumor is in the brain, saving it is unfortunately not possible.
Cause 3: Abscesses and cysts
Abscesses and cysts are not uncommon in hamsters. They can be filled with fluid or pus and can be found anywhere in the body.
Like tumors, they build up increasing pressure as they fill and expand in the process. In addition, there is a risk that they will burst rather than regress. If they contain infectious fluid, it can enter the bloodstream and lead to your hamster’s death.
If detected early, drug treatment may be possible. However, as with tumors, diagnosis is very difficult.
Accordingly, the chances of survival are low.
Cause 4: Wrong fixation of the hamster
The eyes of your hamster can bulge out if the animal is held or fixed incorrectly.
If the neck fur is pulled back sharply or the rodent writhes and pulls forward in the process, muscles and other tissues are missing to frame and protect the eyes.
This can cause them to protrude.
In this case, it is usually sufficient to have a veterinarian moisten the eyes and push them back into their sockets.
Pain medication should also be administered.
However, just as with falls, it is best to prevent such injuries and thus prevent the consequences.
Cause 5: Teeth
Nail teeth that are too long or misaligned in the jaw area are associated with numerous potential problems. These include:
Continued pressure on the jaw
Weakening of the hamster due to problems with eating and drinking.
In the event of a fall or extreme length, the lower nail teeth can also bore into the upper jaw, even injuring the bones.
This can directly affect the eye on the affected side. It is also possible for an infection to develop from the injury and spread to the surrounding tissue.
As a preventive measure, it is possible to check the teeth and the oral cavity frequently.
In this way, unhindered growth of the nail teeth and inflammations are noticed at an early stage and can be treated more easily.
This usually involves shortening the teeth and, if necessary, administering an antibiotic. This is also necessary in acute cases. If the eye is already inflamed as well or pus has accumulated behind it, it is pushed out.
The source of the infection must be treated as well as the eye. If your hamster can no longer close his eye, it is important to use moisturizing eye drops to prevent the cornea from drying out.
As soon as the pus is cleared and no new pus forms, the pressure behind the eye decreases and closing the lid is possible again.
Cause 6: Injured cheek pouches
Your hamster’s cheek pouches are important for collecting food and nesting material. However, they can be injured by sharp or pointed objects.
This can result in inflammation that also spreads to the entire head area.
Similarly, if food or other substances stick to the cheek pouches and can no longer be removed by the hamster itself. Abscesses can also form under the resulting plaque.
Signs of problems in the cheek pouches are:
constant rubbing out with the paws
noticeable bad breath
loss of appetite or cessation of eating
Your hamster may also be aggressive or noticeably withdrawn.
Therapy in this case consists of emptying the cheek pouches and having them examined.
Antibiotics, painkillers and soft food will alleviate the discomfort and promote healing. Again, it is important here to recognize the condition early and see a veterinarian promptly.
Otherwise, germs can spread and also affect the eye. If this has already occurred, antibiotic treatment must also be given.
Cause 7: Inflammation of the eyes
Inflammation of the conjunctiva or infections resulting from injuries are not only extremely painful. They can also lead to the formation of large amounts of pus or even cause bleeding.
Typical signs before the eye protrudes are:
squinting of the eye
If too much pus accumulates behind the eye or in the eye socket, the eye will be squeezed out.
Therefore, take inflammation of the eyes seriously and consult a veterinarian immediately if you notice symptoms. Eye drops and further supportive administration of antibiotic can treat the infection early and resolve it before there is a risk of your hamster losing one or both eyes.
Even surgical removal is no guarantee of survival. Since the surrounding tissue is also infected, it is difficult to create a suitable area for surgery. Germs can spread in the bloodstream and thus spread throughout the body.
In addition, the anesthesia itself already poses a risk.
Cause 8: Poisoning
Poisoning from houseplants, the wrong food, medications or cleaning products is not always immediately fatal.
It is also possible that they have a strong blood-thinning effect and thus lead to internal bleeding. If this occurs in the brain, the pressure rises and the eyes bulge out.
Often it does not stop at this bleeding alone. Nosebleeds, bleeding in the mouth or urine are also often associated with this.
In these cases, treatment is often no longer possible.
Cause 9: Diseases
Hamsters are sensitive animals, which predominantly fall ill more frequently with advancing age. This can also affect the brain.
Acute infections and chronic diseases are possible. If the balance in the organism is disturbed by this, the brain can swell or fluid can accumulate.
The effect here is the same as in the case of increased intracranial pressure due to other causes.
However, other means must be used in the therapy to heal the cause – if this is possible.
What examinations are performed for a protruding eye?
The eye and surrounding areas are examined for changes. In addition, swabs may be taken to determine the exact nature of the pathogens.
The mouth and cheek pouches will also be checked.
You can contribute to the diagnosis by providing all available information.
Has your hamster perhaps escaped on the cage and may have fallen or eaten a houseplant?
Have you noticed any changes in behavior lately?
Is your pet possibly staggering, eating less, or not as active?
Have you noticed discharge or crusting on the eyes?
This information will help identify the trigger or at least narrow down the possible causes.
How can you help treat a bulging eye?
Offer your hamster a warm, dark and clean environment.
In particular, a smaller cage that is lined with cellulose and can be covered is ideal.
Also, administer medications on time and follow the veterinarian’s instructions.
What if an eye needs to be removed?
In some cases, an eye is so badly damaged that it cannot be saved.
Since hamsters rely more on their sense of smell and hearing anyway, they do relatively well with one eye or even blind.
However, make sure to keep the wound clean and administer pain medication in sufficient amounts.
In addition, it is best to feed soft foods and mush for the first time after surgery. This way your hamster does not have to chew and unnecessary movements in the face are avoided.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
I take great pride in being the best possible author and giving you the knowledge that i have on all different types of animals!
I have spent a lifetime learning about pets and animals, and have worked in the pet and vet industry for over 20 years now!
The website will draw have authors who are vets, pet owners, and local pet breeders. All who will contribute their fantastic knowledge which in turn will be able to help you i hope.
There is a lot of information on the internet so it may be hard to know where exactly is the best place to start learning. But we will write articles that get straight to the point, and give you all the information that you need with no fluff!
If you have any questions please leave a comment on the article, and i will reply to you!