Dogs have three eyelids, and the condition called Cherry Eye is caused when the tear gland in the third eyelid becomes swollen and red - covering part of the eye. It is not a life-threatening condition and may not be uncomfortable. However, if left untreated it can potentially cause problems later on, since the glands are crucial to maintaining optimum eye health. Although the exact cause is still unknown, it is thought that dogs under the age of two are more likely to develop the condition, with certain breeds being more at risk.
The breeds with a higher risk of developing Cherry Eye:
• Cocker Spaniels
• Boston Terriers
• Lhasa Apsos
• Saint Bernards
• Shar Peis
• Any Bracyphaelic Breeds (short, flat faces)
Owners can discover the condition quite quickly, as it is relatively easy and obvious to spot. The gland in the third eyelid swells to create a small, swollen, red bulge which covers the corner of the eye nearest to the nose. When dogs develop Cherry Eye, they will have symptoms such as; ocular swelling, dryness, inflammation and redness. Some dogs may get irritated by Cherry Eye which will cause them to rub or scratch it - which may cause damage to the eyelid. If left untreated it can lead to secondary infections and inflammations which can seriously affect your dog’s vision and overall eye health.
In mild cases the condition can sometimes be resolved with tropical antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs and by carefully massaging the affected eye to reposition the prolapsed gland. However, in most cases surgery is required. Vets used to remove the prolapsed gland altogether, but research has found that this method results in dry eye and, in more severe cases, blindness. The only, correct, way to resolve cherry eye is by surgically placing the affected gland back into the correct position. Your vet will discuss treatment options with you and help you to determine what is the best resolution. Reoccurrence is common, and if it does happen again in the same eye then it is more than likely to develop in the other eye at some stage of your dog’s life. Some procedures and treatment can be repeated to amend the problem. Dogs with the condition should not be bred as it is likely that the pups from the litter will inherit the condition.
Always contact your local vet if you think your dog is suffering from Cherry Eye.
Do not leave cherry eye untreated, and do not try to resolve the condition yourself as this can cause more, long term problems such as blindness.