Archive for March, 2012

What is a cherry eye?

March 6, 2012


Cherry eye is a common term used to describe the prolapse of the gland of the membrana nictitans. Huh?! Dogs, unlike people, have three eyelids per eye-the upper, the lower as well as a third eyelid, also known as the membrana nictitans. This third eyelid attaches at the corner of the eye and appears like a pink membrane. It provides additional protections especially from dust, airborne particles, and other foreign material.

Within the membrana, nictitans is a gland which will occasionally enlarge and protrude from under the third eyelid, like a small pink or red cherry, hence the term “cherry eye”. This is usually seen in young dogs; and certain breeds such as cocker spaniels and bulldogs seem to be more prone to this gland prolapse.

Performing “Cherry eye” surgery

Various surgeries exist to address this problem. Most veterinary ophthalmologists, eye doctors, agree that the gland should NOT be surgically removed except as a last resort. Removing the gland may result in the under production of tears and eventual damage to the eye. Instead, the surgeon should attempt to reposition the gland back inside the third eyelid. Post surgical complications such as swelling, can be addressed with eye drops, oral medication, and the use of E-collars to prevent trauma to the eye as it heals.

 Patient recovering from “Cherry eye” surgery

Occasionally the gland may re-prolapse requiring additional surgery and only if all else fails removal of the gland. If you are concerned your pet may have a cherry eye or for any other questions, give us a call. Randal Burris, DVM