Exophthalmos, Proptosis in Hamsters
Also known as exophthalmos or proptosis, the bulging of one or both eyeballs from the socket is common in hamsters. Typically it occurs due to an infection of the eye or a trauma, though it may also happen if the hamster is restrained too tightly from the back of the neck.
Exophthalmos should be considered an emergency that requires immediate veterinary attention. In fact, the sooner the hamster is treated, the more likely it is that the eye can be saved. If the condition worsens, surgical removal of the eye is the only solution.
A hamster with exophthalmos will exhibit excruciating pain in either one or both eyes. Other common signs include:
- Protrusion or bulging of the eyeball
- Slight enlargement of the eyeball
- Watery discharge from the eye, which may also appear red or irritated
Eye infections or traumas to the orbital region are often the cause of exophthalmos, though it also can occur when the hamster is restrained too tightly from the back of the neck.
The abnormal appearance of the eye is the best indicator of exophthalmos. However, your veterinarian will depend on a medical history and your answers to a series of questions to identify the underlying cause of the eye protrusion. Laboratory tests may also be necessary to rule out infections.