Last updated on January 22nd, 2023 at 07:04 pm
Do hamsters get cataracts?
Yes, hamsters get cataracts caused by degeneration of the eye lens, which eventually results in a milky film on their lenses.
Hamsters naturally have very poor eyesight. Hamsters are shortsighted and cannot see beyond 3 inches.
Their sense of smell helps them to find their way around, otherwise, it would be very difficult for them to survive in the wild.
In today’s article, you will learn why hamsters get cataracts, the signs, and causes of its occurrence, as well as what to do if your hamster has cataracts.
Do hamsters get cataracts?
Yes, hamsters can get cataracts which is a result of degeneration of their eye lens. When hamsters have cataracts in their eyes, their eyesight worsens, and eventually, blindness occurs.
The older the hamsters, the more likely they are to get cataracts.
Hamsters are nocturnal, so you can imagine how difficult it will be for them if they have cataracts, since they have very poor eyesight anyway.
What are the signs of cataracts in hamsters?
Hamsters can develop cataracts for a variety of reasons, such as old age, genetic disorders, and injuries.
So let’s see in detail about each of these reasons why and how it causes cataracts in hamsters.
Genetic disorders cause cataracts in hamsters
Genetic disorders are the transmission of the cataract gene in hamsters from their parents. If either of their parents has cataracts, the chances are high that their hamsters will also get the same disease.
Sometimes hamsters can get the first signs of cataracts before they are two years old, and have eye problems. Hamster breeders try as hard as they can to breed healthy hamsters with no history of cataracts.
However, it is a bit more difficult because cataracts usually appear when the hamster starts to age.
That’s why breeders avoid keeping old hamsters that have cataracts, in order to reduce the chances of breeding and giving birth to hamsters with genetically impaired eye health or cataracts.
Injuries can cause cataracts in hamsters
Sometimes awkward injuries to the area of the eye or the lens of the eye in hamsters can cause cataracts.
Most often, this happens with aggressive hamsters who fight too much and hit an object, which eventually ends with the appearance of cataracts, this is especially true for Syrian hamsters.
Avoid mixing Syrian with dwarf hamsters, or best not to keep multiple hamsters in one cage to reduce the chances of such side effects.
For example, Syrian hamsters are quite territorial and will fight with other Syrians or other breeds of hamsters if they are in the same cage.
When hamsters get a cataract due to an injury, it may be in one eye, it does not always mean that both eyes will get a cataract.
Our recommendation is whenever there is a fight between two hamsters or if the hamster hits a hard object on its own or falls from a height, take it to the vet to check its vision, especially if you notice any problems with the hamsters’ eyes.
Old age causes cataracts in hamsters
Old age is the main cause of cataracts in hamsters. Usually, the appearance of cataracts in hamsters happens sometimes when they turn two years of their life, although it can happen even earlier.
Then degeneration of the eye lens occurs, which leads to partial or complete loss of their vision. The first sign of cataracts is when the hamster develops a cloudy or milky film on the lens of its eyes.
When such an outbreak occurs, it is very difficult to prevent it, especially in older hamsters.
No matter how much you raise your pets in the best possible way, give them food rich in vitamin A, which is excellent for the eyes and vision, however, with age hamsters can very often get this eye disease.
In any case, if you notice problems with their eyes, you should take them to the vet immediately.
Does diet affect the occurrence of cataracts in hamsters?
Yes, diet can contribute to whether hamsters will get cataracts, or rather if it is genetically transmitted, it may not be prevented, but it will help to slow down the process.
Foods rich in vitamins and minerals such as apples and carrots are excellent for their eyes and healthy vision.
In order to know how much food affects the possibility of cataracts, it is enough to say that Syrian golden hamsters, when fed food with 45 to 85 percent galactose, get much more cataracts.
If hamsters have diabetes they have a higher chance of developing cataracts.
What to do if your hamster shows signs of cataracts?
The moment you notice cloudiness or a milky film on the lens of one or both eyes in the hamster, then it means that the first signs of cataracts are appearing.
There are several steps you should take in such unwanted eye problems in your pet, so let’s take a closer look at them.
Taking it to the vet
The first step is always to bring your pet to the vet.
The veterinarian will perform appropriate examinations to determine whether the hamster has cataracts or not.
In addition to cataracts, taking your hamster to the vet will also help to detect other possible problems and diseases that you may not have known your furry friend had.
Food for hamsters with cataracts
Nutrition in hamsters is the most important for the protection and prevention of various diseases. When a hamster is diagnosed with cataracts, you should immediately change its diet.
You should give him healthy food rich in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin A which is great for the health of his eyes.
A diet with more apples and broccoli is great for a hamster that has cataracts.
If you cannot decide on your own which food is best for hamsters with cataracts, consult a veterinarian who will help you choose a healthy food menu for your pet.
Since hamsters get cataracts more and more as they get older, a lot of attention should be paid to their diet, it should always be healthy and rich in nutrients.
Do not move objects in the cage
When the hamster starts to have vision problems due to cataracts you will have to pay attention to certain things like its cage or the objects in it.
The reason for not moving them is that when the hamster begins to see poorly due to cataracts, it will be much easier for him to manage in an already familiar space.
All objects in his cage should be in the same place as the wheel, the water tank, the place where you leave his food, etc.
You can only move objects that could hurt him if he bumps into them, although we usually leave this for the later stage of cataracts when the hamsters will see even less.
When the hamster has cataracts, it is necessary to wake him carefully so as not to frighten him.
It is necessary to carefully approach him with a gentle and pleasant voice so that he recognizes you when you approach his cage.
Otherwise, if he does not recognize you because of the cataract, he may even bite you because he will think you are a stranger.
Read more: Why Hamsters Have Red Eyes?
Can cataracts in hamsters be treated?
No, cataracts cannot be cured in hamsters, once they occur, they can only get worse for your pet. Cataracts cannot be cured in hamsters because they are too small and delicate to undergo surgery.
The vet will offer the best treatments for the hamster, but we still have to accept the fact that the condition will not improve,
Cataracts are not painful for hamsters, but since they will not be able to see well, they will be prone to more injuries and falling from various places in the environment.
From our side, as owners, we should help the hamsters and provide them with better conditions when they have cataracts, such as removing objects from which they can be injured.
How do we know that a hamster has completely lost its vision due to cataracts?
When the hamster starts hitting objects, tripping, falling from toys, or from a small height, then you will know that the hamster has partially or completely lost its vision.
When hamsters have cataracts, the loss of vision happens gradually, but it is inevitable, an irreversible process that can only be delayed.
The loss of vision in hamsters occurs gradually, and we as owners can slow down the progression of the disease with proper and healthy nutrition with vitamins and minerals.
Can hamsters get cataracts through physical contact?
No, hamsters cannot get cataracts through physical contact, it’s impossible.
Through physical contact, other eye diseases such as conjunctivitis can be transmitted, but cataracts cannot.
Cataracts are obtained only through natural degeneration of the eye lens of hamsters, during which they gradually lose sight.
What are other eye and vision problems that hamsters can have?
Speaking of cataracts, it’s not bad to know about other vision problems in hamsters.
Here are some of them:
- Proptosis – is a condition when the hamster’s eye comes out of its place, it mostly happens when the hamster is too pressed.
- Conjunctivitis – or also known as pink eye, is an inflammation of the outermost layer of the hamster’s eye, it occurs as a result of an injury or problems with the teeth (overgrown teeth, diseased teeth, irregular teeth). Conjunctivitis can also be caused by dust irritation or bacterial infection.
- Corneal ulcers – ulcers on the cornea of the hamster’s eye due to irritation or scratching. The most common causes are rubbing of the eyes from bedding or fights between hamsters, as well as injuries from the cage while they are playing. At the same time, when hamsters have an ulcer on their eye, they either keep it closed or rub it non-stop, and their vision becomes blurred.
A cataract is a disease that affects hamsters and most often the main causes are genetic disorders, old age, and injury from objects or blows.
A cataract is a degeneration of the lens of the eye that leads to gradual loss of vision, and there is no cure for it in hamsters.
Other animals can undergo surgery, but hamsters cannot be operated on, they are too small and delicate.
When hamsters have cataracts, we can help them with a healthy diet, which will slow down the cataract process.
As their sight decreases and its lost from cataracts, hamsters will find it harder to find their way in space, so we need to help them by removing objects that can hurt them even more.