Dog Cherry Eye
What is Dog Cherry Eye?
Dogs and cats have a third eyelid (also known as the "nictitating membrane"), which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the eye via tear production. Sometimes this gland falls out of place and protrudes from the eye. This condition is commonly called "Cherry eye", and is more common in younger dogs and in certain flat-faced breeds such as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, English Bulldog, Boston Terrier etc..
Diagnosing Cherry Eye
Diagnosing cherry eye isn't particularly challenging, it's more of an "in your face" diagnosis since there really isn't any other alternative, especially in young dogs which account for 99% of the cases.
A pink-red fleshy mass at the medial canthus of the eye is characteristic and readily recognized. Exposure of the gland may result in trauma, inflammation, or infection. If chronic or untreated, the prolapse of the gland of the third eyelid can lead to keratoconjunctivitis sicca - dry eye.
Topical Treatments for Canine Cherry Eye
Cherry eye can be treated with topical antibiotics and, anti-inflammatory drugs. Topical therapy can help prevent secondary infections that commonly occur in Cherry Eye. However, topical treatments typically are not effective at resolving the condition, and surgery is needed.
Topical treatments aimed at reducing inflammation include:
Sterile Eye Drops - the gland of the third eyelid produces about 40% of tears, making it the largest producer, and when it's inflamed tear production is usually lowered, though in most cases, overall production doesn't drop so low to cause dry eye. When this does occur, sterile eye drops are certainly a necessary part of the treatment, at least until the tear production normalizes.
Surgery for Dog Cherry Eye
There are two surgical procedures which are commonly used to treat dog cherry eye:
- Pocket Surgery - the Imbrication Technique, more commonly known as the "pouch" or "pocket" technique, buries the gland into the tissue of the third eyelid so it can't protrude. The pocket technique is easier to do, doesn't limit movement of the third eyelid and is generally preferred treatment surgical option.
- Anchoring Surgery - anchoring surgery is basically a suture which attaches healthy tissue around the gland to encircle and protect it. The problem with anchoring surgery is that it limits the mobility of the third eyelid and is a bit more difficult and invasive than "pocket" surgery,