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Idaho’s only Veterinary Ophthalmologist on seeking eye care for your dog suffering  from “Cherry Eye.”

Maybe you have seen a dog with a bright red, swollen, painful looking eye in the past. “Cherry eye,” as it is commonly referred to, is a prolapsed gland of the nictitans. It occurs after a tear gland in a dog’s third eyelid becomes inflamed. While it is usually not extremely painful, sometimes a dog will rub at it as if it were itchy. 

Dr. Carrie Breaux is Idahos only Veterinary Ophthalmologist; her insights on Cherry eye in dogs.

In today’s blog, advice from WestVet’s Veterinary Ophthalmologist, Dr. Carrie Breaux on how to prevent long-term eye damage from this disorder.

Photo credit: Dr. Erica Tolar, DACVO, Veterinary Ophthalmologist


Canine eye structure.

All dog breeds have a third eyelid or “nictitating membrane.” Stationed in the lower eyelid, its purpose is to offer additional protection for a dog’s eyes. The accompanying tear gland supplies a significant amount of moisture to the eye. If it becomes prolapsed, it protrudes out of the bottom or corner of the dog’s eye. The swollen area appears red and inflamed—the primary symptom of cherry eye—and where the name originates.

Dr. Breaux says, “It’s important to note that dogs who suffered from cherry eye once are more susceptible to another occurrence. This includes a propensity to experience the condition in the other eye. A major concern is that extended or recurring cases of cherry eye can lead to long-term eye problems, such as tear film problems and conjunctivitis.”

Causes of cherry eye. There is likely a genetic predisposition, but it can happen in any breed. It is generally seen in young animals and is uncommon after the age of two.

Ophthalmic Veterinary Treatment.

If you notice cherry eye in your dog, make an appointment with your family veterinarian right away. Early care can help ensure your dog’s long-term eye health. Many cases will need minor surgery to reposition the gland to its normal location.

Dr. Breaux advises, “There are various surgical options available for repositioning the gland. Which procedure I choose depends primarily on the position of the gland, how long it has been prolapsed and the shape of the dog’s face. Surgically removing the gland is not recommended as it has an important role in maintaining the health of the surface of the eye.”

Long-term effects of cherry eye in dogs.

Left untreated, and the longer the gland is prolapsed, the greater the risk of associated problems such as conjunctivitis. A dog pawing, scratching, or rubbing the affected eye may irritate it further.

Cherry eye in dogs is easy to spot and can be treated quickly. If you have any questions about this disorder, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 208.375.1600.


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