Occasionally a hamster may get a sticky eye where the eyelids are fused together and there may also be crusty deposits along the eyelid. Older hamsters tend to be prone to 'sticky eyes'. This can be because a hamster may have something it its eye such as a piece of dust, the hamster's cage is placed in a draught or could be a symptom of a cold or allergy. The closed eye should be wiped with a small piece of cotton wool soaked in luke warm water. This is usually sufficient to open the eye but if not the eyelids can sometimes be gently and carefully pulled apart and then wiped with soaked cotton wool to remove any debris. If the hamster has a problem with both eyes a separate piece of cotton wool should be used for each eye.
Although rare, hamsters can develop cataracts and the symptom is a cloudy eye. Although the cataract cannot be treated it is worth seeking veterinary confirmation as the symptoms of a treatable eye infection are sometimes similar.
If a hamster has recurring problems with runny, sticky or swollen eyes or the eye appears cloudy the hamster may have conjunctivitis or an eye infection and veterinary advice should be sought as antibiotics may be needed.
Occasionally a hamster may lose an eye due to accident or illness or the eyes may be missing due to genetic deformity. The loss of an eye or blindness does not affect the hamster too much as their eyesight is very poor and they rely mainly on smell and hearing.