Cherry Eye

By Kaytie Grant

Recently we have seen a few cases of cherry eye in dogs who have been brought to our consultation clinics.

What is cherry eye?

Canine cherry eye is a prolapsed gland of the third eye lid. (As well as upper and lower eyelids, dogs have a third eyelid to protect the eye from trauma or damage.) When the gland pops out from the edge of the eyelid, it presents like a small red cherry.

How do you treat cherry eye?

Although it looks alarming, cherry eye is not painful. However, it can cause the eye to run or produce discharge, which could be irritating, giving the dog the urge to rub it. This could lead to bleeding or infection, so it needs to get treated. 

When it comes to treating cherry eye in dogs, there are both surgical and non-surgical approaches available. The choice of treatment depends on the severity of the condition and the preference of the pet owner.

Surgical

The most common surgical approach for treating cherry eye is the removal or repositioning of the prolapsed gland. This procedure involves surgically correcting the gland that has slipped out of its normal position in the dog’s eye. This is known as the mucosal pocket technique. It requires a general anaesthetic and a small pocket is made on the inner aspect of the third eyelid, where the gland is re-positioned to. The area is then stitched shut with dissolving sutures. The goal is to restore proper eye function and prevent further complications or recurrences.

The surgery takes about 30 minutes and recovery / healing time is 1 – 2 weeks. The dog may need to wear a surgical collar or cone to prevent rubbing the eye whilst it heals.

Non Surgical

Non-surgical methods can also be considered for milder cases of cherry eye or as a temporary solution. One such method is massage, where gentle pressure is applied to help reposition the gland back into place. Another non-surgical option is medication, which can be prescribed by a veterinarian to reduce inflammation and promote healing.

It’s important to note that while non-surgical methods may provide temporary relief, they may not address the underlying issue causing cherry eye. In such cases, surgical intervention may be necessary for a more permanent solution.

Prevention

Cherry eye is more common in certain breeds such as cocker spaniels, boston terriers, bull dogs or pugs, to name but a few. It is essential to ensure you purchase a dog from a reputable breeder who takes their dogs’ health seriously. In addition, eye care is important. Clean eyes free from debris or dried discharge will reduce itching and rubbing, reducing the likelihood of the gland to become detached, damaged or prolapsed.   

To conclude

Ultimately, prevention is better than treatment and eye care should become a part of your dogs health regime. If cherry eye does occur, it is best to consult with a qualified vet who can assess your dog’s specific condition and recommend an appropriate treatment plan. IWCT holds weekly clinics where you can bring your pet for a free consultation with a volunteer vet. Please contact us to find out where we are located or for more information. 

Check out our Education section for more information on responsible pet ownership.    

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