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Surgery to Repair “Cherry Eye” or Prolapsed Gland of the Third Eyelid

Dogs and cats have a unique “third eyelid” that sits at the inner corner of their lower eye.  You often have no idea it is there.  This third eyelid contains a gland that produces secretions helping to lubricate the eye.  Sometimes this gland “pops” out of position and you see a red mass. This prolapsed lacrimal gland is commonly referred to as “cherry eye”.

This problem is seen most often in young animals and is most common in certain breeds including the Cocker Spaniel, Lhasa Apso, Boston Terrier, Shih-Tzu, Poodle, Beagle, Bulldog and the Burmese cat.

It may look horrific, but cherry eye is not a painful condition. However, exposure of the gland may lead to irritation and inflammation. If the pet rubs at the eye, it could cause bleeding and even infection. Some pet owners elect not to address cherry eye.  However, inflammation and decreased blood flow due to the abnormal position of the prolapsed gland will eventually lead to decreased tear production and eventually keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) or “dry eye.”  Dry eye can lead to scarring of the cornea and blindness.

The procedures used to correct cherry eye by the veterinarians at Metropolitan Veterinary Center vary depending on surgeon preference but the “pocket technique” or resection of a portion of the gland are most common.

Unfortunately, no surgical procedure is 100% effective, and occasionally additional surgery is needed. Post-surgical inflammation may take 1-2 weeks to resolve.