Q: I have a Winter White Russian dwarf hamster, and he has a pink ring around his right eye. What is causing this and how do I fix it?
A: If the ring of “pink” is on the skin around the hamster’s eye, it is usually because all of the hair around the eye has fallen out. This typically happens due to ocular discharge, because the fluid sticks to the hair around the eye. As your hamster cleans himself, the dried discharge is removed by pulling out the hair it is attached to.
Ocular discharge is usually due to infection of the superficial tissues of the eye; this is also termed conjunctivitis. Other causes of discharge include blocked tear ducts, cataracts or diseases of the cornea.
If the pink is around the white of the hamster’s eye, the sclera, then this means that the normal blood vessels of the sclera are inflamed. Inflammation of the vessels can happen with infection, cataracts and even glaucoma. There are specialized instruments your veterinarian has to measure pressures in the eye and other devices that magnify the tissues of the eye such that we can visualize the different layers of the eye, including the retina.
Visit your veterinarian and have him or her look closely at your hamster’s eye. Most of the conditions I mentioned are treated with simple eyedrops, and your hamster can make a full recovery.