A cherry eye is the prolapse of the gland of the third eyelid. The appearance is a red lump at the inner eyelid corner. The cause of this condition is unknown but it is common in certain breeds. Breeds that are predisposed include Basset Hound, Maltese, Beagle, British Bulldog, Australian Bulldog, Cocker Spaniel, Rottweiler, Shih Tzu and Neapolitan Mastiff.
We see cherry eye mostly in younger dogs. Often it will develop in the other eye around the same time. In some cases the cherry eye can be associated with eversion (kinking) of the third eyelid cartilage.
The only option for treatment is surgery as drops and ointments will not resolve the gland prolapse. These medications may help by reducing the associated swelling and inflammation (redness). Surgery involves permanently repositioning the gland using a pocket technique.
A pocket is created into which the gland sits and the conjunctiva is sutured together over the top. This technique has a very high success rate with a recurrence rate of less than 2% at Animal Eye Care. If the gland is not repositioned it can enlarge and cause complications such as conjunctivitis, a corneal ulcer or dry eye.