Home » Why Is My Hamster’s Eye Bulging? (Hamster Eye Protrusion)
can hamsters eyes pop out?

Why Is My Hamster’s Eye Bulging? (Hamster Eye Protrusion)

Exophthalmos (proptosis) causes hamsters’ eyes to bulge out of their sockets. All species are prone to eye protrusion, but an underlying health condition is usually responsible.

A hamster’s eye can bulge due to an eye infection, trauma, dental disease, glaucoma, or an abscess that exerts pressure on the eye. Also, allergies and poor hygiene can be responsible for eye protrusion.

Never firmly squeeze a pet hamster, as this can cause the eyes to pop out. So, if you have children or younger siblings, ensure they know how to handle a hamster correctly.

Can Hamsters’ Eyes Pop Out?

According to the journal Ferrets, Rabbits, and Rodents, bulging eyes in hamsters is a common condition. The symptoms of exophthalmos include:

  • Eye discharge or tears.
  • Crusting around the eyes.
  • Visual impairment, including difficulty navigating the enclosure.
  • Weight loss.
  • Eating difficulties.
  • Pawing at the face.
  • Change of eye color.
  • Swelling of the eye.

Bulging hamster eyes are caused by the following:

Eye Infection

An eye infection, such as conjunctivitis (pink eye), makes the eye red, inflamed, and crusted. It may feel hot to touch and ooze pus, becoming so swollen that it protrudes from the socket.

Eye infections have several causes, including:

  • Dirty bedding.
  • Bacteria from fresh food, like fruits and vegetables.
  • A foreign object inside the eye.
  • Injuries.
  • Allergies.

The hamster must undergo a vet-prescribed course of antibiotics to clear up an infection.

Trauma And Mishandling

Hamsters have bad eyesight and may bump into large or sharp objects. Bedding can also stick to the eye, causing damage that prevents blinking. Over time, the eye becomes protruded.

Occasionally, a hamster’s eyes become displaced when its owner restrains it too tightly by holding the skin behind the neck.

Another cause is being accidentally stepped on or squeezed too hard. This is common with children who don’t know how to handle their pet hamsters appropriately.

what to do if your hamsters eye is popping out

Dental Disease

Dental abnormalities sometimes cause a bulging eye, so the hamster will require a corrective dental procedure to resolve the misalignment.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work, so the eye must be removed to ease the discomfort. Vets dislike performing surgery on small animals, so euthanasia will likely be necessary.


Tooth and cheek abscesses, or cheek pouch tumors, are responsible for bulging eyes because the pressure from the tumor or abscess makes the eye protrude from its socket.

The eye protrusion and abscess are painful, so swift veterinary treatment is required.

Oral antibiotics are effective against abscesses. Lancing and draining also ease the pressure and allow the eye to recover, as long as it hasn’t already popped out of the socket.


Glaucoma is an eye disorder that occurs when one or both eyes experience abnormal pressure. According to the Journal of Ophthalmology, glaucoma causes irreversible blindness if not treated early.

A hamster’s eye is filled with aqueous humor (watery fluid). The liquid the eye produces is balanced by the fluid draining away through microscopic channels.

Then, it flows back into the bloodstream, creating the pressure the eye needs to maintain a globe shape.

If the fluid can’t escape or there’s too much inside the eye, the pressure inside the globe rises, causing the eye to protrude.


If the hamster’s eye sticks out of its socket, it could have an allergy. Hamsters can have allergies to bedding, food, and airborne allergens, such as sprays and perfumes.

Most of the time, removing the cause of the allergy clears up the symptoms.

Poor Hygiene

Poor cage hygiene is another cause of exophthalmos because it leads to sickness-causing bacteria. For example, spilled water can cause the bedding to become moldy.

Also, ammonia from urine builds up, resulting in eye problems should they come into contact with urine.

Can Hamsters’ Eyes Fall Out?

In extreme cases, hamsters’ eyes dry up and fall out after many days of being out of the socket. The eye becomes so enlarged that the hamster can no longer blink or close its eyes.

Once the eyeball pops out of the socket, it can’t go back in. Hamsters die soon after the condition occurs, with most vets recommending euthanasia to end the discomfort.

Hamsters can survive and maintain a reasonable quality of life with only one eye. As mentioned, hamsters have terrible vision, so they rely on their sense of smell and hearing to navigate their enclosure.

What To Do if A Hamsters Eye Is Popping Out

Eye bulging is painful, so immediate treatment is needed to prevent further discomfort.

Your vet may prescribe a course of antibiotics to treat any bacterial infections. Also, they may suggest surgery as the only option to treat a protruding eye.

bulging eyes in hamsters

How To Prevent Your Hamster’s Eye from Popping Out

Should the hamster survive, you can prevent future occurrences with these steps:

Clean The Enclosure

As discussed, hamsters develop bulging eyes due to unsanitary conditions.

Cage cleaning is essential, so remove soiled bedding and soak up urine with tissue and disinfectant. This prevents harmful bacteria from infecting the eyes.

Change The Bedding

If the hamster is allergic to its bedding, change it to a more suitable substrate. Paper-based bedding is a good choice, but Aspen shavings may suit hamsters with allergies.

Pine and cedar shavings are toxic. They can also poke hamsters in the eye, causing a bulge or protrusion.

Careful Handling

When handling the hamster, always maintain a gentle grip. Never squeeze it or pull the skin on the back of the neck. If you have children, supervise them while they play with their hamsters.

Monitor The Teeth

Poor teeth alignment can cause a hamster to develop dental disease.

Check the hamster’s teeth to ensure they don’t grow too long; provide chew toys that it can use to wear them down. This will prevent avoidable dental problems and reduce the risk of eye protrusion.

Bulging eyes are painful and distressing, so check for any changes to the eye’s shape, color, or size. That way, you can get any issues sorted before they become a serious problem.