Cherry Eye in Dogs


What Is Prolapsed Gland of the 3rd Eyelid in Dogs?

Prolapsed gland of the eyelid describes a pink mass protruding from the animal’s eyelid; it is also called a “cherry eye.” Usually, the gland development is anchored by an attachment comprised of fibrous product.

This medical condition occurs in both dogs and cats, although it normally impacts more youthful animals.

Symptoms of Cherry Eye in Dogs

The most typical sign of “cherry eye” is an oval mass extending from the dogs’s third eyelid. It can happen in one or both eyes, and might be accompanied by swelling and inflammation.

Causes of Cherry Eye

“Cherry eye” is most typically related to a hereditary weakness of the gland’s accessory in the dog’s eye. However, it is unknowned whether the condition is acquired.

While this medical condition can happen in any breed, it is more common in Cocker Spaniels, Bulldogs, Beagles, Bloodhounds, Lhasa Apsos, and Shih Tzus.


The vet will evaluate the mass in the dog’s third eyelid and identify if there is a hidden cause for the condition. The diagnosis of the prolapsed gland could be scrolled or everted cartilage in the third eyelid, abnormal cells in the third eye, or a prolapse of fat in the dog’s eye.

Treatment for Cherry Eye in Dogs

Treatment often consists of surgical replacement of the gland in the dog’s eye, or elimination of the whole gland if the condition is severe. Alternatively, if medications are suggested, they are usually topical anti-inflammatory drugs that are effective in minimizing swelling.


Cherry eye, if caught early, can be resolved with a downward diagonal-toward-snout closed-eye massage of the impacted eye or occasionally self-corrects alone or with antibiotics and steroids. Often the prolapse will remedy itself without any interference, or with minor physical manual massage control as frequently as essential paired 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 badly infected cases, preoperative antibiotics might be essential by means of antibiotic eye lotion. Elimination of the gland was as soon as an appropriate treatment, and made the eye appear totally normal. Despite cosmetic appeal, elimination of the gland lowers tear production by 30 per cent. Tear production is essential in maintaining and protecting the eye from the external environment. Reduced tear production is especially problematic in types of animals predisposed to Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS). With surgeries carried out in this manner, KCS typically results later on in life.

Close-up of prolapsed gland in small breed dog

KCS prevails in dogs, impacting one per cent of the dog population. [8] KCS is a chronic degenerative conjunctivitis that can lead to impaired vision and loss of sight. KCS has a wide selection of causes consisting of drug toxicity, cherry eye, previous surgery, injury, and irradiation. KCS can be treated, but treatment often covers the entirety of the animal’s life.

In contrast to this, several replacement surgical procedures exist to remedy cherry eye. Replacement of the gland results in lower instances of dry eye later in life. Surgery types are gotten into two groups: anchoring treatments and pocket/envelope procedures. At least 8 surgical methods presently exist. In anchoring treatments, the prolapsed gland should be sutured to the periorbital fascia, the sclera, or the base of the third eyelid. In contrast, pocket treatments include suturing healthy tissue around the prolapsed to enclose and protect it. Each of these strategies may be performed with an anterior or remarkable method, depending upon which direction of suturing will cause the least complications to the eye.

Anchoring approach

Originally, the anchoring approach included suturing the gland to the globe. This method was superseded with time due to the dangerous and challenging nature of the surgery, along with a high rate of recurrence. Anchoring approaches from posterior may interrupt regular fluid excretion. Consequently, an anterior method was introduced. Disadvantages of anchoring strategies consist of limited mobility of 3rd eyelid, which is necessary in the functions of fluid distribution and self-cleaning. New treatments are presently being checked out to enable adding of the NM without limiting motion of the 3rd eyelid. Few studies compare outcomes of surgeries, therefore choosing a procedure is a matter of preference.

Envelope/pocket technique

The envelope technique, typically called the pocket technique, needs suturing of tissue around the prolapse, encasing it in a layer of conjunctiva. Pocket methods are most convenient for doctors to discover. Pocket techniques also have anterior and posterior variations. Posterior suturing methods are the most typically used since they cause the least complications, without any modifications in tear production. Surgery should just be attempted by experienced cosmetic surgeons. Unsuitable surgical techniques can result in numerous complications including cysts on the eye.

Cost Of Cherry Eye Surgery For Dogs

This was not a horrendously pricey surgery (numerous of our family dogs require a lot more costly treatments for something or another), but it wasn’t actually low-cost either.

Depending on where you live, the size of your dog, your vet’s pricing structure, and whether you elect to have the pre-op bloodwork done, and whether you have to take home medication, the typical cost of dog cherry eye surgery is someplace around $350 – $450 (per eye).

Ivan had the bloodwork done, and required (!) painkillers and anti-bacterial eye ointment to go home with him, and my overall costs was $472.00.

Here’s a look at the breakdown:

  • Pre-op blood testing – $86.72.
  • Surgically removing the gland – $163.51.
  • Anesthesia – $123.60.
  • Pain medication to take home – $58.06.
  • Antibacterial eye ointment to take home – $40.23.

Obviously you could pay less than this if you don’t do the blood-testing – and if Fido has actually had a comprehensive physical recently, or had blood work done for an earlier surgery or investigation you might not need it.

Cherry Eye in Dogs: Living and Management

It is necessary to avoid the gland from turning into a prolapse– thus falling out of its appropriate place in the eye– and decrease the reoccurrence of the disease.


There are presently no recognized preventative procedures for this medical condition.


1 Comment

  1. Going through the same thing with my now 6-month-old Italian Mastiff who presently has them in both eyes. I was made to seem like a bad pet owner by wanting the glands eliminated so I did what the vet instructed and 2 weeks later they were back. Through experience, my breeders already recommended the elimination considering they have actually never ever had dry-eye problems. They went through the tacking over and over before they finally decided to eliminate them.

    Here’s my educated opinion that I am now running with and sticking to: Tacking will almost most definitely return sometime within the dogs lifetime, in my case, 2 weeks. Not ok for the dog or owners pocket. Adding, which she failed to point out, also stretches the muscles in the eye and causes the eye to droop which will create yet another surgery($800+). Every time you tack the eyes droop more. So far the only options with adding are surgery … crossing your fingers … or more surgery. Not the very best choices in my viewpoint. On the other hand, removal CAN position a possibility for dry-eye in dogs later years in addition to a natural decline in tear production. Some dogs would get dry eye any method even if they had actually evaded cherry eye in their lifetime.

    The “third eyelid” gland is one of two glands in the eye and is just accountable for 30% of total tear-production.

    So with all stated, I personally am going to have both glands in each of my pups eyes eliminated. I would personally, instead be obliged in the future in her aging to supplement her eyes daily with eye drops then put her through yet another adding surgery that will more than most likely show unsuccessful once again. The mental and health concerns through duplicated anesthesia are not worth it. Even if the tacking does work, you can’t ignore the dropping aspect which presents the next surgery hoping it will not set off a relapse.

    My guidance is to discover a vet(not always a professional) who has done a lot of removal surgical treatments. I just saw one today, and he told me he has never ever had any of them come back with dry-eye issues in his 20 yrs of experience and that the dry-eye patients he did get never ever had a cherry eye.

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