Cherry Eye (Swelling) in Pets

What is Cherry eye?

Cherry eye is where there is a mass protruding from under the third eyelid of dogs or cats. It is a swelling of the lymphoid tissue of the third eyelid gland. The third eyelid is like a windscreen wiper for the eyes of cats and dogs that sweeps across the eye every time the animal blinks. The lymphoid tissue becomes swollen due to chronic inflammation such as allergic conjunctivitis or some other allergic condition. This swells so much it flips over the third eyelid and looks like a red “cherry” that disfigures the dog.
The condition is non-life threatening but does disfigure the dog or cat and cause discomfort. It can cause chronic discomfort and prone to eye infections and reduced vision if it covers enough of the eye. It is prone to happen in the other eye at a later date or can occur in both eyes simultaneously.
Treatment with a cortisone containing ointment may be initially prescribed but this may have a poor response. Surgical treatment involves placing the third eyelid gland into a pocket created surgically for the gland to sit down into. It’s a delicate surgery, however, we have a good success rate with this surgery. It can recur though.
Removal of the third eyelid will work to solve the cherry eye problem , but as about a third of the eyes tear production is produced by the third eyelid it can make animals more prone to dry eye (a reduction in tear production), which causes chronic discharge and discomfort in the eyes, so this surgery is only done where all other methods have failed.