Demi is a spunky little girl but when she came to us at 9 weeks old, she had one thing slowing her down- Cherry Eye. (see that red bubble in her eye?) Demi had surgery last Friday and is back to her normal spunky self.
"Cherry eye" is a common term for prolapse of the third eyelid gland. Many mammals, including dogs, have an "extra" or third eyelid located inside the lower eyelid. This serves as an additional protective layer for the eye, especially during hunting or fighting. The third eyelid contains a gland that produces a significant portion of the tear film. When this gland prolapses or "pops out", the condition is known as "cherry eye.
The gland of the third eyelid is normally anchored to the lower inner rim of the eye by a fibrous attachment. In certain breeds, it is thought that this attachment is weak, which allows the gland to prolapse easily. The breeds most commonly affected include cocker spaniels, bulldogs, beagles, bloodhounds, Lhasa apsos, Shih tzus, and other brachycephalic breeds (dogs with "squished" faces and short limbs). Burmese and Persian cats are also reported to have "cherry eye".
Treatment involves surgical replacement of the third eyelid gland. It is important to treat the condition as soon as possible in order to minimize damage. This is critical because the third eyelid gland produces up to fifty percent of the watery (aqueous) portion of the tear film. Without adequate tear production, your dog is much more likely to develop "dry eye", which can seriously impair vision. Your veterinarian will discuss the appropriate surgical technique that will best suit your pet's condition.