If your dog has a red bump in the corner of his eye, it’s likely a cherry eye, a worrying but not uncommon experience for many dog owners.
Unlike people with only two eyelids, dogs have three. The third eyelid, called the nictation membrane, arises from the inner corner of the eye and covers the eye, which it lubricates diagonally. It is therefore important to keep this gland working properly.
Cherry eye in dogs occurs when this third eyelid gland prolapses. Fortunately, cherry eye symptoms are easy to notice, and long-lasting effects usually don’t occur with quick treatment. If ignored, surgery may be needed to treat cherry eye in dogs to prevent permanent long-term eye problems like decreased tear production.
Dr. Sean Collins, a clinical assistant professor at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, says ophthalmologists don’t fully understand why the nictation membrane gland sometimes protrudes from its original position, but it is believed that it does Result of a weakness in the connective tissue that is responsible for keeping the gland in the correct position.
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“This condition can occur in any breed of dog, but is most common in certain breeds, including the American cocker spaniel, English bulldog, Lhasa apso, and Pekingese,” said Collins.
Pet owners who notice a large or small red swollen mass in the inner corner of their dog’s eye should alert their veterinarian immediately. The cherry eye in dogs can not only irritate the dog, but can also have permanent consequences if left untreated.
“Without correction, chronic prolapse can lead to conjunctivitis (pink eye) and eye discharge (fluid from the eye),” said Collins. “It has also been shown that with correction, dogs are less likely to develop low tear production later in life.”
Low tear production can lead to several problems if left untreated. In addition to pain and blurred vision, corneal ulcers can also develop, which become infected and lead to a broken eye. This condition responds well to tear stimulant therapy in most cases, but life-long medication is usually required.
Your veterinarian can confirm whether your pet has a cherry eye and develop a treatment plan that is best suited to solving the problem and reducing the potential for eye problems as your dog ages.
Cherry eye treatment
“Initial therapy for cherry eye in dogs can be topical anti-inflammatory therapy if local inflammation can contribute to the prolapse of the gland,” he said. “If brief medical therapy does not work or if the prolapse develops again, surgical repositioning is indicated. There are numerous surgical techniques to reposition the gland with high overall success rates. “
If surgical treatment is required, Collins emphasizes that this treatment will benefit your pet in both the short and long term.
By far the best treatment for cherry eye is to get the gland back in its proper place. There are two techniques for doing this. The traditional method of constipation (also called stapling) is probably the most common. A newer surgical technique called imbrication, or plugging, involves removing a wedge of tissue just above the actual gland. This technique is more difficult because it is not easy to determine how much tissue to remove. – Wendy Brooks, DVM, DABVP
“Surgical repositioning is very important if initial medical therapy fails, as the gland is responsible for about 30-50% of the dog’s watery tear production,” he said. “We usually see low tear production in the same breeds that develop a prolapsed nictitans gland. It has been shown that dogs with surgical repositioning of the gland are less likely to develop low tear production later in life than dogs that have had the gland excised or left chronically prolapsed. “
Cherry eye in dog prevention
Unfortunately, there are no known preventative measures to protect against cherry eyes, Collins said. This condition can develop in either eye, usually before the age of two. The best way owners can protect their furry friend is to vigilantly monitor their pet’s health and immediately report to the veterinarian if a problem arises.
The best way to protect your dog’s sight is to get an early look at the cherry when they are easiest to handle. Remember that the dog’s eye can be discharge, red, cloudy, or swollen. The nictitation membrane can partially cover the eye.
If your dog seems to have a cherry eye, take him to the vet right away. Your veterinarian may have the knowledge and equipment to diagnose and treat the problem right away. If not, she can refer your dog to a veterinary ophthalmologist, a specialist in animal eyes and their disorders.