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Cherry Eye

Cherry eye is caused by a prolapse of the gland situated under the third eyelid. The nictitating membrane or third eyelid is normally visible as a pink or black "flap" at the inner corner of a dog's eye. Cherry eye is a condition where the gland on the underneath of the nictitating membrane falls out of position and protrudes markedly. It will be visible as a pink swelling at the inner corner of the dog's eye. One or both eyes may be affected.

The gland on the underside of a dog's third eyelid produces a significant portion of the pre-ocular tear film, so it has a very important function in helping to keep the eye healthy and moist. Sometimes this gland can prolapse and become visible as a pink swelling of tissue in the medial canthus of the eye (the corner of the eye nearest the nose). When the gland of the third eyelid prolapses it may cause irritation to the dog. The dog may then scratch and rub its eye and cause further damage and injury so it is wise to treat this condition promptly.

Cherry eye is usually treated surgically. There are various surgical techniques and sometimes the gland may simply be removed. However I believe that it is important to preserve the gland otherwise the production of tears could be adversely affected, potentially resulting in a greater tendency towards a dry eye (or keratoconjunctivitis sicca). Sometimes it may be possible to manipulate the gland back into its normal position but if it is not sutured in place it will often just prolapse again. The best treatment involves suturing the prolapsed gland to the orbital rim and hence securing it in place. This is a relatively simple procedure and most vets will be able to perform this surgery. Following the surgery recovery is usually uneventful but topical antibiotics will probably be used for about a week to prevent any infection.

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All Rights Reserved | Content is provided for information only. All content on is protected by copyright and therefore may not be copied without specific written permission from the author. Disclaimer: The content of this website is based upon the opinions of Samantha Coe, unless otherwise stated. Individual articles, extracts, and any links to external sites are based upon the opinions of the respective author(s), who may retain copyright. The information on this website is not intended to replace a consultation with a qualified veterinary professional and is not intended as medical advice. The purpose of this site is the sharing of knowledge and information - Samantha Coe encourages you to make informed healthcare decisions for animals in your care based upon your research and in consultation with your vet.