Cherry eye may sound like something cheerful but is in fact an eye condition that can harm a dog’s long-term sight. Certain breeds are at higher risk. Cherry eye is the common name for the prolapse of the third eyelid gland. Most animals, including dogs, have a tear gland within their third eye lids – the pink eyelid that can sometimes be seen on the inner corner of the eye. This tear gland is very important as is produces up to 50% of the watery part of the tears. The tear gland is encased in a pocket in the third eyelid but sometimes it pops out of its pocket – causing what is known as a cherry eye.
Cherry eye symptoms
A sudden pink to red swelling or growth-like structure can be seen on the inner corner of the eye (it resembles a cherry). This is the gland that has popped out of its pocket. The condition is mostly seen in Bulldogs, Spaniels, Boston terriers, Beagles, Bloodhounds and other brachycephalic (flat faced) dogs.
Treatment involves surgically replacing the third eyelid gland into a pocket of the third eyelid. It is very important to have this condition treated. Left untreated, it can result in damage to the tear gland, which can result in the eye being dry, causing even more problems.
In most cases the gland will continue to produce tears without any further problems. However, about 20% of dogs will have recurrence of the prolapse, which will require further surgery to correct. Some dogs may develop cherry eyes in both eyes.
It is not recommended to remove the gland. This will result in suboptimal tear production and a condition called dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca). One should only consider removal of the gland if the function of the gland is severely compromised.