When we look into the eyes of our dog, we most likely will see trust, honesty, loyalty, and a best friend. But what about the red blob in the corner of the eye? Most dog owners have heard about a condition often referred to as “cherry eye.” Many seem to think cherry eye is not a major concern and it won’t affect their fur baby’s health. However, if the issue is left untreated, it may cause loss of vision.
Cherry eye is a common term for prolapse of the third eyelid gland. Many animals, including dogs, have a third eyelid located inside the lower eyelid, also referred to as the “nictitating membrane.” The third eyelid contains a special gland that produces a portion of the eye’s protective film. When the gland prolapses or “pops out”, it appears as a red swollen mass on the lower eyelid near the muzzle.
Although it might look serious, cherry eye usually doesn’t require an emergency trip to the vet’s office. The swelling isn’t painful and dies down on its own within a few days, but cherry eye tends to come back and the gland could possibly pop out permanently. Dogs most at risk of developing cherry eye include cocker spaniels, bulldogs, bloodhounds, beagles, and shih tzus to list a few. Dogs with flat faces generally have increased risk for cherry eye. Cherry eye is most common in younger animals.
How is it treated?
Treatment involves surgical replacement of the third eyelid gland. It is important to treat the condition as soon as possible to prevent permanent damage to the eye or the third eyelid gland. Without adequate tear production, the dog can develop “dry eye” which can also impair vision. In most cases, the gland returns to normal function within a few weeks of surgery.
Cherry eye occurs most commonly in young dogs, and certain breeds are more prone to the condition. The swelling may come and go, but can lead to complications if left untreated. While cherry eye cannot be prevented, it is treatable with surgery, and the prognosis is best when it’s caught early.
Brooks, W. Cherry Eye in Dogs and Cats. Veterinary Partner. 2001. Retrieved 04 Dec 2020. https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=4951447.