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Cherry Eye
Cherry eye appears as a red swelling in the corner of the eye closest to the nose. It is commonly seen in Bulldogs and Cavaliers but also can affect other breeds. It normally occurs in young dogs at around four months of age and may affect one eye or both eyes.

The swelling is the third eyelid gland which normally lies behind the third eyelid completely out of sight. Protrusion is thought to be due to weakness in the connective tissue surrounding the gland. Once the gland pops over the edge of the lid swelling can occur which makes it difficult for the gland to return to a normal position. Sometimes the glands can pop in and out several times before protruding permanently. Apart from the cosmetic appearance the gland can dry out and irritate the cornea. The gland itself produces around half of the dogs tear production and tear production may be reduced when the gland becomes prolapsed.

Surgery is nearly always required. The correct treatment is replacement of the gland into the correct position and fixing it in place by burying the gland under the conjunctiva. This technique, using adequate magnification and fine suture material, is nearly always effective in curing the problem. Antibiotic ointment is used after surgery until the sutures dissolve after two to three weeks. Occasionally the glands can prolapse again due to suture breakdown but this is not common.

Removal of the gland is definitely not the correct treatment. Both the gland and the third eyelid itself are important for the production of tears and the spreading of the tear film over the cornea. Removal of the gland will reduce tear production and may also damage the third eyelid reducing its function as a “windscreen wiper”. The tear film is vital and without it the cornea will deteriorate causing discomfort and eventual blindness. Both of the above mentioned breeds are prone to dry eye and removal of tear producing tissue can only increase this problem.

At the Animal Eye Centre we see “Cherry eye” regularly and in our dedicated operating theatre, using our operating microscope and specialised ophthalmic instrumentation we can correct this problem with little likelihood of recurrence.