What is a cherry eye?
- A prolapse of the third eyelid gland - meaning that the membrane located in the corner of a dog's eye, which houses a tear gland, is inflamed. So a dog that has a cherry eye would have a red or pinkish swollen bump in the inner corners of its eye.
- For reasons that are unclear, the membrane around the tear gland grows weak and starts moving around. The movement usually causes irritation and leads to the swelling of the gland. Cherry eyes are mostly hereditary, so certain breeds like Shih Tzus, Bulldogs, Cocker Spaniels, Lhasa Apsos, and other small breeds. It's also thought to be caused by parasites, infections, cancer and/or immune system issues.
- Eye redness, swelling of the inner corner(s), mucus and/or excess watery discharge, your mutt pawing at its eye or rubbing its face on the ground at the irritation.
- The best way to treat a cherry eye is to consult your trusted vet. Many times vets will prescribe an ointment to see if the swelling and irritation will go away first, and if that doesn't work, then usually the second (and only) option is to perform surgery. With surgery, the vet will most likely try to tuck the gland back in (which has a very high success rate). If that doesn't work, then the vet will most likely remove the gland all together.
- While surgery is the last resort for cherry eyes, some circumstances many require it. The main risk with removing the tear gland is having a dry eye which may lead to vision damage. If this does happen later on, it can be treated with medication.
- In some pets, the prolapsed gland doesn't cause discomfort or damage to the eye and may come and go on its own. So the main reason for fixing the cherry eye is more for cosmetic purposes. Again, consult with your trusted vet to see what is the best action to take for you and your mutt.