Cherry eye can be a painful condition for a dog, or even a puppy, if left untreated. Thankfully, our South Florida veterinarians have experience treating this condition. Today, they will go over what cherry eye is, what can cause it, and the treatment options available.
What is cherry eye?
Cherry eye refers to the prolapse of the third eyelid gland in mammals, including dogs. This gland provides additional protective layers for the eye, especially during hunting or fighting, and contains a gland that produces a significant portion of the eye's tear film.
Cherry eye is most commonly seen in young dogs and can occur spontaneously or because of trauma or genetics. If left untreated, it can lead to discomfort, dryness, and potential complications such as conjunctivitis or corneal ulcers.
What causes cherry eye in dogs?
Cherry eye is a condition that usually affects dogs under one year old. It results from a stretched or broken ligament holding the third eyelid gland in place. Common causes include stretched or broken ligaments and breed predisposition.
Other conditions, such as trauma or foreign bodies, can cause cherry eye. This can result in vision loss or even blindness. It is critical to contact your veterinarian if you notice any unusual eye changes, as a visit sooner rather than later improves the prognosis.
Some breeds more predisposed to developing cherry eye include American Cocker Spaniels, Beagles, Basset Hounds, Lhasa Apsos, English Bulldogs, Chinese Shar-pei, and Newfoundlands. Owners and breeders should be familiar with the symptoms of cherry eye to ensure a healthy and happy dog.
What are the signs of cherry eye in dogs?
There are a few symptoms to watch out for:
- A smooth, round, red or pink mass (“cherry pit”) in the corner of the eye
- Thick discharge
- Attempts to paw at the eye
Generally, cherry eye is a noticeable swelling in a dog's eye near the nose, often causing permanent prolapses and complications if left untreated.
What is the treatment for cherry eye in dogs?
Treatment for cherry eye involves surgical replacement to minimize permanent damage. The third eyelid gland produces up to 50% of the tear film. This can cause dry eye if not treated promptly, and dry eye can impair vision.
Removal of the gland is not recommended. Until the surgery is scheduled, your veterinarian will likely prescribe a tear appointment to keep the eye lubricated. They will also be sure to go over the appropriate surgical techniques best for your dog's condition.
What is the prognosis for dogs that have had cherry eye surgery?
The prognosis is generally very good. In most cases, the gland returns within a few weeks following surgery. It should be noted, however, that some dogs will relapse and require additional surgery. But this is generally quite rare as most patients will make a full recovery.
If you have concerns about cherry eye surgery for dogs, contact your veterinarian. They should be able to provide you with the information you need.