Eye fat is a common and often genetically predisposed health problem. It can be recognized by the red bulge at the back corners of a hedgehog’s eyes. It means that the hedgehog produces more fat behind the eyes, pushing the skin in the eyelid outward. These hedgehogs also have less space in the eye sockets, so there is a greater risk of the eyes being pushed out of the eye sockets than is the case for hedgehogs without this problem. There’s not much you can do to prevent hedgehogs from getting this, other than making sure the hedgehog doesn’t become overweight, which could exacerbate the problem. Due to the often genetic predisposition of these hedgehogs, there is no way to prevent eye fat and unfortunately there is no direct cure for this either. Breeders who have hedgehogs with eye fat should consider not using those hedgehogs or only using them with hedgehogs that don’t have this problem. In this way, the genetic mutation can be bred out of the bloodline.
If the hedgehog has eye fat and the eye is pressed out, it is important to go to the vet as soon as possible. He can try to put the eye back in the eye socket, or choose to remove the eye completely. Sometimes the vet chooses to let the eye socket grow closed naturally, sometimes the preference is for stitches or gluing the eyelids closed for healing. In almost all cases, there is no life-threatening situation as long as a vet is called in on time. A hedgehog can live just fine with only one eye or even completely blind. That’s because hedgehogs have poor eyesight and naturally rely more on their other senses: taste, smell and hearing.