Cherry Eye Conditions in Dogs

  • Date: 06-12-2019
  • Post By: Dr Sapna Soni
  • Category: Conditions Involves Surgery In Pets

Cherry eye is a disorder of the nictitating membrane (NM), also called the third eyelid, present in the eyes of dogs and cats. Cherry eye is most often seen in young dogs under the age of two years. Common misnomers include adenitis, hyperplasia, adenoma of the gland of the third eyelid; however, cherry eye is not caused by hyperplasia, neoplasia, or primary inflammation. In many species, the third eyelid plays an essential role in vision by supplying oxygen and nutrients to the eye via tear production. Normally, the gland can turn inside-out without detachment. Cherry eye results from a defect in the retinaculum which is responsible for anchoring the gland to the periorbita. This defect causes the gland to prolapse and protrude from the eye as a red fleshy mass. Problems arise as sensitive tissue dries out and is subjected to external trauma. Exposure of the tissue often results in secondary inflammation, swelling, or infection. If left untreated, this condition can lead to dry eye syndrome and other complications.

  • Treatment
  • Non-surgical
  • Cherry eye


Cherry eye:

if caught early, can be resolved with a downward diagonal-toward-snout closed-eye massage of the affected eye or occasionally self-corrects alone or with antibiotics and steroids. Sometimes the prolapse will correct itself with no interference, or with slight physical manual massage manipulation as often as necessary coupled with medication.



Surgery is the most common means of repairing a cherry eye. Surgery involves gland replacement, not excision, by anchoring the membrane to the orbital rim. In severely infected cases, preoperative antibiotics may be necessary by means of antibiotic eye ointment. Removal of the gland was once an acceptable treatment, and made the eye appear completely normal. Despite cosmetic appeal, removal of the gland reduces tear production by 30 percent. Tear production is essential in maintaining and protecting the eye from the external environment. Reduced tear production is especially problematic in breeds of animals predisposed to Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), also known as dry eye syndrome. 


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