Cherry eye, also known as prolapse of the third eyelid gland, is a condition that commonly affects dogs, particularly certain breeds. It refers to the protrusion or swelling of the tear gland in the corner of the eye, giving it a red or cherry-like appearance. While it can be alarming to see, it is typically not a painful condition for the dog.
The third eyelid gland, also called the nictitating membrane or haw, is responsible for producing a portion of the tear film that keeps the eyes lubricated and protected. In a healthy eye, this gland is hidden and not visible. However, in dogs with cherry eye, the gland becomes swollen and protrudes from its normal position.
Contributing Factors for Cherry Eye
The exact cause of cherry eye is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to a weakening of the connective tissues that hold the gland in place. Certain dog breeds, such as Bulldogs, Cocker Spaniels, Beagles, and Shih Tzus, are more prone to developing cherry eye due to their genetic predisposition. However, it can occur in any breed or mix.
The most noticeable sign of cherry eye is the red or pinkish mass in the corner of the affected eye. It can occur in one or both eyes, although it is more commonly seen in one eye initially. The condition may cause the dog to blink excessively or rub the affected eye, indicating some discomfort or irritation. In some cases, dogs may develop secondary eye problems like conjunctivitis or corneal ulcers.
What to Do
If you suspect that your dog has cherry eye, it is important to consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. The vet will conduct a thorough examination of the eye and may recommend additional tests to rule out any other underlying conditions. Treatment options for cherry eye typically involve surgical correction.
Treatment for Cherry Eye
Surgery is performed to reposition the gland back to its normal position and secure it to prevent future prolapse. There are different surgical techniques available, and the choice depends on the individual dog and the severity of the condition. In some cases, the veterinarian may also recommend removing the affected gland if it is non-functional or prone to recurrent prolapse.
After the surgical procedure, the dog will require post-operative care, including the administration of prescribed medications, such as antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs, to prevent infection and reduce inflammation. It is essential to follow the veterinarian’s instructions for post-operative care, including any restrictions on activity, to ensure proper healing.
While cherry eye surgery has a high success rate, there is a small chance of recurrence or complications. Some dogs may develop dry eye syndrome (keratoconjunctivitis sicca) after the surgery, requiring ongoing management with artificial tears or other medications.
Cherry eye is a common eye condition in dogs, particularly certain breeds, characterized by the protrusion or swelling of the tear gland in the corner of the eye. Prompt veterinary evaluation and appropriate surgical intervention are recommended to correct the condition and prevent further complications. With proper treatment, most dogs can recover well and enjoy a normal, healthy life.