Cherry Eye – A Common Eye Condition in Dogs

Cherry eye occurs when a gland in the third eyelid becomes swollen and protrudes from the inner corner of the eye. Cherry eye can look quite unpleasant as the gland appears as a large, red, fleshy lump that covers part of the eye. Here you can read more about symptoms and how cherry eye can be treated.

All dogs can suffer from cherry eye, but it is more common in certain breeds.

What is Cherry Eye?

Cherry eye (also known as prolapsed nictitating membrane gland) is caused by a weakness in the connective tissue that holds a gland on the inner side of the third eyelid in place resulting in prolapse of the gland. The protruding gland can become inflamed and enlarged. The gland then resembles a red cherry, hence the name. It is mainly dogs younger than 1 year that are affected. It can affect one or both eyes.

The third eyelid

Dogs have three eyelids. An upper, a lower and a third eyelid which is usually seen as a pink membrane in the corner of the dog’s eye. It contains an important tear gland The third eyelid provides protection to the eye by distributing tear film across the surface of the eye. The third eyelid does not function properly when it is not in the correct position and ocular health is compromised. If cherry eye is left untreated it can cause irritation and inflammation of the eye and even corneal ulcers.

How can you treat it?

Generally, surgery is required. The vet surgically replaces the gland and stitches it into the correct position. However, there is a risk of recurrence, and it is common that repeat surgeries are required.

Is it hereditary?

All dogs can suffer from cherry eye, but certain breeds are genetically predisposed to developing this condition. Dogs that have been diagnosed with cherry eye should not be bred.

What should I do if I suspect that my dog has cherry eye?

If you suspect that your dog has suffered from cherry eye, you should make an appointment with your vet for an eye examination. Early treatment is required to prevent your pet developing any serious ocular issues.