Posted by: Renate Steenberg | 2012/10/26

Hamster with milky eyes

Hi! I own a male hamster who is 1year and 7months old. He has a sticky eye which I have been monitoring and keeping clean. Yesterday I took him out and saw that both eyes suddenly became milky in both eyes. They were both shiny the day before yesterday. I realise he is getting old and I want to know whether it is worth a vet check up? Is there anything you can do about it? I know it is a common hamster problem but I do not want to let him suffer.

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Our expert says:
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The expected average life span of a hamster is very short, 18 months to 2.5 years. A cataract is a disease of the eye that causes the lens of the eye, or its capsule, to become milky. Cataracts can mean anything from a mild cloudiness of the lens to it becoming completely milky and can occur in one or both eyes. The most common type of cataracts is usually age related and are generally seen as part of the ageing process. These develop gradually and over a period of time, getting worse as the hamster ages until all functional vision is lost. There is no treatment available for cataracts in hamsters. A partial or total loss of vision is not a great handicap to a hamster as they rely on their sense of smell rather than eyesight.
Other causes of cloudy eyes include corneal ulcers or corneal swelling. This can be very painful and needs treatment. The only way to know the difference is by having an ophthalmological exam at a vet.

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