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  • Cherry Eye - What it is and how to treat it

    The medical term for 'cherry eye' is Prolapsed (tear) Gland of the third eyelid in dogs. It is a bright pink/red ball in the corner of the eye, resembling a cherry hence the layman term 'cherry eye'. It can occur in one or both eyes, and could be accompanied by swelling and/or irritation. Although it looks like it would be painful, it is not in anyway causing pain to the dog.



    What causes cherry eye is mostly associated with a congenital weakness of the gland's attachment in the dog's eye. Each eye has two tear producing glands, one above the eye and one in the third eyelid. The gland in the third lid contributes to the secretion to the tear film. In certain breeds, mostly smaller, the attachment of this gland is not strongly held in place resulting in the prolapse (pops out). It has not been determined if this condition is hereditary or not, however it is mostly seen in younger dogs between the ages of 6 weeks to 2 years. It is prone, but not limited to:
    • Cocker Spaniels
    • Boston Terriers
    • Bulldogs
    • Beagles
    • Bloodhounds
    • Lhasa Apsos
    • Neapolitan Mastiff
    • Pekingese
    • Shih Tzus
    Of course, to ensure there are no underlining issues it is best to have your veterinarian examine your dog and provide the diagnosis as 'cherry eye'. There is the possibility of it appearing to be cherry eye, but have been cases of abnormal cells, scrolled cartilage and even extra fat tissue in the eye. Treatment of the eye will depend on the severity of the issue, often it includes surgery to replace the gland (stitch the gland back in place) or removal of the entire gland. In previous years, before it was realized to be a gland popping out of place, they were treated as a tumor and the only option was removal. Now, thanks to research and technology, we have options:
    • Medications - eye-drops which are an anti-inflammatory that reduces the swelling.
    • Nonsurgical Replacement of the Gland -- painless process consists of eye-drops, warm compresses and massage while applying gentle pressure with your index finger in a circular motion. Once the swelling is reduced you can gently return the gland to its place. This technique may need to be done several times since the gland can 'pop out' again.


    YouTube videos --



    Prior to having surgery, it is good practice to wait a few months to see if the other eye will also 'pop out', which will lessen the chances of any additional surgery and costs. If a puppy is experiencing this condition, it is best to wait till they are at least 4 months old before any surgical option. Costs begin at $250 going up to $450 and in extereme cases can go as high as $1000.
    • First surgical option -- Tucking method, where a single stitch is permanently placed to pull the gland back where it belongs. There are some possible complications:
      • Stitch becomes untied, this could result in the eye being scratched by the suture, which would cause sudden pain and the suture thread may be visible.
      • The tuck may not hold permanently. This procedure is notorious for failure and frequently a second tuck is needed.
    • Second surgical option -- Tissue is removed from directly over the actual gland. This procedure is more challenging as it is not easy to determine how much tissue to remove. Dissolvable stitches are used to close the gap so that the tightening of the incision pushes the gland back in place. Again, there are some possible complications:
      • Inflammation or swelling as the stitches dissolve.
      • Inadequate tightening of the tissue gap may lead to recurrence of the cherry eye.
      • Failure of the stitches to hold could cause injury to the eye depending on the type of suture used.
    • Third surgical option -- Third eyelid tear gland is removed. This is a last resort option as the potential complication is life long dry eye, which would depend on the upper tear gland being able to produce enough tears to keep the eye moist. Daily eye-drops will be required.
    There have been situations where the tuck and tissue removal are performed on the same eye to ensure the gland replacement. Serious complications from either of the procedures are unusual but recurrence of the cherry eye is very common. If it does return, talk with your veterinarian and determine if visiting an ophthalmology specialist should be considered.

    On a final note, there currently seems to not be any known preventative measures for this condition.

    References --
    www.veterinarypartner.com
    www.petmd.com
    Comments 58 Comments
    1. JeannieCO's Avatar
      JeannieCO -
      Great article!!!!
    1. JAKEISGREAT's Avatar
      JAKEISGREAT -
      wonderful information!
    1. babybully's Avatar
      babybully -
      Yup, been there and done that with BOTH of them. Ugh! With Cleo we had not even had her 24 hours and it popped out. So frustrating
    1. 2BullyMama's Avatar
      2BullyMama -
      @JeannieCO @JAKEISGREAT

      AH, shucks thanks guys!
    1. goobers mom's Avatar
      goobers mom -
      Very informative thank you for the great article
    1. bullmama's Avatar
      bullmama -
      Excellent article, nice work @2BullyMama
    1. JeannieCO's Avatar
      JeannieCO -
    1. Davidh's Avatar
      Davidh -
      Great info, good job.
    1. savemejeebus's Avatar
      savemejeebus -
      Stig had the second option done, as the vet recommended it and said that they've had a 100% success rate on it. So far so good! I must note that it took a while for the swelling to go down though. Had to go back a couple of weeks after to inquire, and gave us a second type of drop to apply, and the next day no more swelling.
    1. MyLittleEcho's Avatar
      MyLittleEcho -
      Thanks for the clarification and explanation! Our precious baby has had a couple surgeries for his one eye but it pops out once in a while. I beleive it comes back because he is a "little" wound up wanting to play all the time and does not let it heal completely. Luckily it doesnt usally hurt them and my husband knows how to pop it back in.
    1. Jack Daniels's Avatar
      Jack Daniels -
      I didnt get it....
    1. Jack Daniels's Avatar
      Jack Daniels -
      Just kidding folks.....

      That first picture looks just like Jack !
    1. Cooper11's Avatar
      Cooper11 -
      @BrooklynStar didn't know if you had read this thread or not
    1. BrooklynStar's Avatar
      BrooklynStar -
      Quote Originally Posted by Cooper11 View Post
      @BrooklynStar didn't know if you had read this thread or not
      Nope havnt explored many of the articles yet...ill read it tonight...thanks!!!
    1. BrooklynStar's Avatar
      BrooklynStar -
      I tried I press it back in but it didn't work. He just woke up and his eye has some blood and some yellow discharge. Should I go to the emergency vet????
    1. 2BullyMama's Avatar
      2BullyMama -
      HELL YES!!
    1. Cooper11's Avatar
      Cooper11 -
      Quote Originally Posted by BrooklynStar View Post
      I tried I press it back in but it didn't work. He just woke up and his eye has some blood and some yellow discharge. Should I go to the emergency vet????
      does he act like it hurts??? Usually when you shut the eye the eye lid will go over it and you just massage and it will go back in.... can you post a pic??? Poor thing!!! Yellow usually means infections.....has his eyes been goocky
    1. ChanelnBrutus's Avatar
      ChanelnBrutus -
      Quote Originally Posted by BrooklynStar View Post
      I tried I press it back in but it didn't work. He just woke up and his eye has some blood and some yellow discharge. Should I go to the emergency vet????
      Yes but Im sure your already there! Hope all is well Please update us when you can!
    1. BrooklynStar's Avatar
      BrooklynStar -
      Hey everyone

      Just got back...they said he is fine and checked for an ulcer in his eye, but he will prob need a procedure done to put it back in. They said it was nothing to worry about and it was most likely irritated. They gave me eye drops to administer every 4 to 6 hours... Poor Dozer


      As a side note, some deranged lady walked in the vet emergency hospital in her night gown demanding to see a doctor for her asthma. When they refused treatment to her since it was an animal hospital she went bonkers. Throwing stuff out of the rooms, screaming kicking and yelling. She tried to get into my room but I firmly kept the door shut and called PD. They came and took her to the psychiatric hospital. They gave me a discount because of the inconvenience...instead of 220$ they only charged me $100...thanks night gown lady.....What a night!!!!
    1. Cooper11's Avatar
      Cooper11 -
      Quote Originally Posted by BrooklynStar View Post
      Hey everyone

      Just got back...they said he is fine and checked for an ulcer in his eye, but he will prob need a procedure done to put it back in. They said it was nothing to worry about and it was most likely irritated. They gave me eye drops to administer every 4 to 6 hours... Poor Dozer




      As a side note, some deranged lady walked in the vet emergency hospital in her night gown demanding to see a doctor for her asthma. When they refused treatment to her since it was an animal hospital she went bonkers. Throwing stuff out of the rooms, screaming kicking and yelling. She tried to get into my room but I firmly kept the door shut and called PD. They came and took her to the psychiatric hospital. What a night!!!!
      aaaaaa.......you called the PD...... aren't you the PoPo! Hope crazy lady didn't scar Dozer for life! lol did they get the cherry eye back in then???? Poor baby! I would still do the massaging thing though. You can still try to avoid surgery and the more you do it even when he cherry eye isn't out the more it helps....and yes he may be one of this bullies that just need the surgery but he is so young I would give it time! Gracie just started stopped reoccurring like a month ago or so.....so there is still hope for Dozer