By Karen Rosenthal, DVM, MS
My son’s female hamster’s eye looks like it’s popped out. What do I do? It’s for sure her eye, and it’s definitely dead, all hard. Should I have it removed? Do you have any idea what caused this?
Thank you for sending along the image of your hamster. This is a common condition in hamsters, sadly. Due to the position of the eye and the shallow eye socket in hamsters, it is common for the eye to “proctose” from the socket. This means the entire globe “pops” out of its place in the skull and is attached by some soft tissue.
If only part of the eye is out or if this is treated immediately, there is a chance to save the vision in the eye. In those cases, a veterinarian can replace the globe into the socket. When the entire eye pops out of the socket, the nerve that goes from the eye to the brain is stretched or torn. This results in blindness in that eye. Also, along with the nerve run blood vessels, and those will also be damaged as the eye leaves the socket.
If the blood supply is compromised in this manner, even if the nerve is intact, without a blood supply, the tissues in the eye will die and this, too, will cause blindness.
At this point, if the eye has been out of the socket for a number of days, it is unlikely your hamster will have vision in that eye, but we assume this condition is painful. So the recommendation is, even if we cannot save the eye, is to visit your veterinarian and have him or her remove the eye. This is a simple procedure and will lessen the pain and the chances for infection to occur.