Cherry eye can affect any dog, but some breeds are more susceptible to the condition than others. This condition can manifest itself in either one or both eyes of a dog, and it is beneficial for a dog owner to be aware of the breeds that may be predisposed to it as well as how to recognize it.
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What is Cherry Eye?
“Cherry eye” is a nickname for a medical condition known as prolapsed nictitating membrane, prolapsed third eyelid, or third eyelid gland prolapse, all of which are related to the eyelids. The nictitating membrane, also known as the third eyelid, is a fleshy, pink part of the eye socket that sits next to the eye. This membrane is actually a flap of tissue that contains a gland that secretes tears, and it is usually difficult to see because it is hidden within the tissue. It should be flat and against the corner of the eye socket, but in a dog with cherry eye, it enlarges, flips over, and protrudes or prolapses, making it abnormally visible in the field of vision.
Signs of Cherry Eye in Dogs
- Bulge of pinkish color in one corner of the eye
- Putting your paw or rubbing your eye
- I was unable to close my eyes.
A cherry eye is characterized by a pink or red bulge that appears to be coming out of the inner corner of the eye in a dog’s eye. This bulge will not be bleeding and will not be painful, but it is usually quite noticeable to the owner. Sometimes the bulge will come and go, but other times the cherry eye will remain out indefinitely until veterinary care has been obtained for the dog. Aside from the obvious pink bulge in the eye, your veterinarian may notice other problems and symptoms in a dog with cherry eye, such as dry eye, corneal ulcers, irritation, and inflammation of the cornea, among other things. As a result of these circumstances, the dog may paw at or rub its eyes.
Due to a decrease in tear production, dry eye develops. Because the third eyelid is responsible for producing tears, if it is inflamed and not producing enough tears, the eye will not be adequately lubricated. This can then result in irritation, inflammation, and even ulcers on the cornea, especially if the eye is pawed at or rubbed against the ground by a dog. Dogs may find it difficult or impossible to completely close their eyes if a cherry eye is large enough on their face. If the eye is kept partially open all of the time, this can also be a contributing factor to dry eye.
Causes of Cherry Eye in Dogs
Cherry eye can be present at birth in some dogs, but it is more common in those who have had it for a long period of time. Generally, dogs under the age of two years are more susceptible to developing cherry eye than older dogs, but some breeds are more susceptible to developing the condition than others. Breeds such as American Cocker Spaniels, Shih Tzus, Beagles, Lhasa Apsos, Pekingese, Maltese, Bassett Hounds, Rottweilers, Neapolitan Mastiffs, Shar-Peis, Boston Terriers, St. Bernards, and English Bulldogs are examples of these types of animals.
Treatment of Cherry Eye in Dogs
Cherry eye in dogs has been successfully treated with a variety of surgical techniques over the years. The surgical replacement of the cherry eye is the preferred treatment option because it preserves the tear production in the gland; however, the gland must occasionally be removed in order to maintain the tear production. If the surgical replacement is unsuccessful and the removal of the gland is required, there is a risk that your dog will develop chronic dry eye, and your dog will be closely monitored for this condition after the procedure. If the gland has just popped out, pressing or massaging the cherry eye back into place with a wet cloth at home may be sufficient, but this will depend on the severity of the cherry eye and the length of time it has been out of position. The majority of the time, this is only a temporary fix, if it even works at all.
Your veterinarian will select the surgical plan for replacing the cherry eye that they are most comfortable with, but one of three methods is typically used in combination with a modification of the other two. The three most commonly used methods are known as orbital rim anchoring, scleral anchoring, and the pocket method, which is the most popular of them all. Variations of the pocket method have been shown in some studies to be the most successful3 surgical plan for cherry eye replacements, and as a result, many veterinarians choose to use that technique.
An E-collar should be worn until the eye has completely healed. Various medications, both oral and ocular, may be prescribed to help manage pain and inflammation as well as prevent infection. Damage to the surgical site will be minimized as a result of this. In addition, when your dog’s eye is rechecked after surgery, the tear production may be monitored to ensure that the replaced gland is still adequately producing enough tears and that your dog does not have dry eye. If dry eye has developed, it will be necessary to use eye medications for the rest of one’s life.
How to Prevent Cherry Eye in Dogs
No one is certain what causes this condition, but some dogs appear to be predisposed to it due to a genetic predisposition to developing it. Fortunately, it is not a life-threatening condition and can be managed with surgery and medication.