Hamster Sticky Eyes

A hamster with a sticky eye, or both eye's. This is a common condition with hamsters and a problem that can have many causes, particularly as he ages.
The most common cause of a hamster waking up with his, or her eye sticking shut are foreign bodies such as dust or particles etc: usually from the bedding.
The hamsters closed eye can be wiped with a small piece of cotton wool soaked in a luke warm saline solution. Such as Steripod Sodium Chloride Saline Solution . This is a ready mixed solution available in pods and very cheap at any chemist. It is a sterile solution of Sodium chloride 0.9% a solution of salt in water. This is used for the irrigation of wounds and is ideal for the cleaning of the hamsters' eyes and any other wounds that may be sustained by your pet hamster. It can also be used to irrigate and remove material and harmful substances from the eyes.
This is usually sufficient to open the sticky eye and once they are opened they can be irrigated. (don't try to praise the eye lids apart) Puss, gunk or goo and discharge can be removed from the hamsters eye by bathing the eye with this lukewarm solution. Use disposable cotton wool swabs when you wipe or dry the eyes and dispose of each one after a single use. You can mix your own saline solution for emergency use by mixing some ordinary table salt with boiled water and allowed too cool, use it warm and mix in the same ratio as above.

Hamsters, particularly as they get older may wake up with one or both eyes stuck together. In an otherwise healthy hamster this is nothing to worry about. As the hamster ages they tend to sleep much longer. The eyes constantly secrete fluid to keep them moist and stop them from drying out; excess fluid builds up on the closed eyelids and dries out causing them to stick together.

A thick yellowish discharge from the eye is the result of a blocked tear duct, usually caused by an infection.
The tear ducts are very important in the maintenance and cleaning of the eye. They make sure the eyes are kept well lubricated and free from foreign bodies. A blocked tear duct is a partial or complete blockage in the tubes that carry tears or the fluid away from the surface of the eye and drain into the nose. Tears originate from the lacrimal glands located just above each of the eyes.  If the tear ducts become blocked they will not able to drain properly and this results in excessively watery eyes which increase the likelihood of infection and inflammation. There are a number of factors that cause tear ducts to become blocked; this is where the membrane that is covering the tear ducts fails to open into the nasal passage as it normally should. As a result the entire drainage system of the eyes is disrupted. 
Ageing is one of the most common factors which may lead to blocked tear ducts. As hamsters' age they can experience eyeball and eyelid changes that cause the ducts to close up. In severe cases a veterinary surgeon may be able to prescribe eye drops that may help. Home treatment options that have proven to be effective in less severe cases by stimulating the affected ducts with a clean warm moist cotton ball. Create a mixture of warm water and add a small amount of salt, soak the cotton ball and clean the eyelids by gently wiping it over the affected eye. Use once only taking care not to use the same part of each cotton ball more than once. Treat regularly, about three times a day for a period of 2-3 minutes each so as to achieve the best results.

If the eyelids become stuck together with a build up of green or yellow pus your hamster may have an eye infection known as conjunctivitis.
This is an inflammation of the conjunctivae. Conjunctivitis may be caused by virus or bacteria. Redness, irritation and watering of the hamsters eyes are common symptoms in all forms of conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis can affect one or both eyes depending on the cause. Respiratory infections or the common cold usually affect both eyes. But an injury that may have led to an infection of the eye may result in only the one eye being affected. However with most forms of conjunctivitis the hamster may experience a cough, this may sound very much like hiccups, or a chirp. This is caused by excess fluid draining into the nasal passages and then into the throat.
In this the hamster has conjunctivitis in one eye only. Here I use Virkon to bathe the eye, but a saline solution will work just as well. This should be carried out twice a day. If the infection is severe then an antibiotic eye gel (Clinagel-vet) should be used, also twice a day.
In this Video after 3 consecutive day's of treatment with the antibiotic drops the infection has now cleared, leaving a bright clean non-sticky eye. But as a precautionary measure I will continue the treatment for a further 2 day's for him to get the full benefit of the antibiotics.

Viral Conjunctivitis:

Viral conjunctivitis: This may also be commonly known as "Pink Eye" usually following an upper respiratory infection such as a cold that hamsters are very susceptible to. There is no effective treatment for viral conjunctivitis. Other than keeping the eye clean and free of discharge (as described above). This can be done by bathing the hamsters eye/s, periodically in a saline solution. For severe cases topical treatments may be prescribed to reduce the discomfort and irritation. Most forms of conjunctivitis will over the course of 7 days or so gradually get better. Viral conjunctivitis usually resolves within 10 14 days.

Bacterial Conjunctivitis:

Bacterial conjunctivitis may also be known as "Pink "Eye" and is highly contagious but this usually resolves its self in around seven days after symptoms first appear. This usually presents itself with a watery or scant mucus discharge from the hamsters eye, and the occasional sticking shut of the eyelids. Bacterial eye infections are a common complication of a cold. They usually respond well to home treatment (as above) and a speedy recovery with antibiotic eye drops, usually clearing within 4 to 5 days. Video

Reactive Conjunctivitis:

This can result from a build up of ammonia from the hamsters own urine, cigarette smoke, or fumes and household products such as aerosols. This can cause irritation of the conjunctiva. In these cases the irritants should be avoided.

Boric Acid

Some people recommend the use of Boric acid for treating hamsters' infections of the eye. Do not treat pets with this product unless directed by your vet to do so. Boric acid is generally regarded as being safe, but nevertheless minimize any contact with it.

It is a low-toxicity mineral with insecticide, fungicidal, and herbicidal properties, and sometimes used as a mild antiseptic / germicide. Boric acid is very toxic if taken internally, or it is absorbed into the body. Sometimes it is said to be used in a very weak dilute form on the eye. Though it is not significantly absorbed through intact skin. But it must never be used on open wounds as it is absorbed quickly through broken skin and deaths have occurred from this. Accidental ingestion may cause poisoning in humans and in animals. Inhalation of the dust particles is dangerous and should be avoided. Because of the potential toxicity of this chemical it may be wise to use other alternative methods or products.

The handling of this chemical may incur notable safety precautions.
It is highly recommend that you seek the Material Safety Data sheet for this chemical from a reliable source and follow its directions before use.


Hamster sticky eyes


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