Should I be concerned about my dog’s cherry eye (third eyelid gland prolapse)?

Original Question: My dogs third eyelid pops out now and then but always goes right back in place. It looks like cherry eye but it is pale pink and not the red or dark pink color. Is this something to worry about now? - Marbub

Should I be concerned about my dog’s cherry eye (third eyelid gland prolapse)? Apr 25, 2018

Hi Marbub,

‘Cherry eye’, also known as third eyelid gland prolapse, is a condition where a tear-producing gland that normally sits below the lower eyelid pops up into view. It can rub the eye and cause irritation and over time the gland may start producing less tears which can lead to other problems such as infection, keratitis and ‘dry eye’. It is recommended that it be treated before these problems occur.

My first recommendation is to massage the gland back down into place as soon as possible. The longer it has been out, the less likely it is to stay down in its normal position once you place it there. In 15 years of practice, I may have seen one case where the gland remained in place after massaging it back down below the lower eyelid. You can ask your veterinarian to perform this but quite frankly, it often pops back up before the dog leaves the clinic.

There are a few different surgeries that can be done to repair this. They are usually recommended when your dog is under general anesthesia for their spay or neuter surgery if the condition is present before 6 months of age which it usually is. The reason why multiple different surgical techniques exist is that no one surgery is agreed upon as the best. Their effectiveness is not 100% and you can have the condition recur even after the surgery. Some veterinarians will perform these surgeries but many will not and you may have to visit a specialist to have it performed. The specialist will have the added benefit of greater experience than a general practitioner and therefore will likely have a greater chance of success. It is absolutely imperative that you take care of the eye after the surgery by following the post-surgical treatment plan and making sure your dog doesn’t rub its eye or else the chance of it recurring becomes greater.

For more information, I encourage you to watch our video “Cherry Eyes in Dogs and How to Treat It Properly” where I discuss this disease with Trudy, a large dog who presented cherry eye.

Thanks for your question and good luck!

Dr. Clayton Greenway

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