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What is Cherry Eye?

Normally, connective tissue holds the lacrimal gland of your pet’s eye in place. Weakness in the tissue or inflammation in ocular mucous membranes are two instances that can cause the gland to protrude. Cherry eye can lead to the compromising of the function of the third eyelid. Prolapsed lacrimal glands will most often be seen in dogs under the age of two, but it can occur at any age. It is very important to bring your dog to the clinic if you see indications of a problem within the eye.

Cherry eye occurs when the tear gland of the third eyelid begins to protrude and becomes a reddish mass. Though it may look like more of a cosmetic condition than a medical one, the prolapsed lacrimal (tear) gland can become painful, irritated and inflamed. Predisposition to the condition can be seen in Cocker Spaniel, Lhasa Apso, Beagle, Bulldog, Shih-Tzu, Boston Terrier, Saint Bernard and Poodle breeds.

Cherry Eye Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $250 - $2,500

Average Cost

$600

Symptoms of Cherry Eye in Dogs

The most obvious symptom of cherry eye is the red, swollen mass in the corner of the dog’s eye which may appear suddenly. Cherry eye can progress quickly. Your canine companion may rub or paw at his eye which can lead to an infection or bleeding. If you notice a red bulge appearing in your dog’s eye, a veterinary visit is a must.

  • Swollen tear gland and third eyelid
  • There will be the appearance of an oval mass
  • The bulge will be reddish in color
  • The bulge can become irritated and painful if rubbed
  • Your dog may squint if pain is present
  • The eye can become dry due to lack of lubrication
  • There may be swelling around the eye
  • There could be a pus-filled discharge
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Causes of Cherry Eye in Dogs

Why canines suffer from cherry eye is not well understood. What is known is that the third eyelid plays an important part in tear production. If the cherry eye is not repaired, your dog could develop dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca), which requires the administration of medicated ointment or drops several times daily for life.

  • Weakness of the connective tissue attachment between the third eyelid membrane and tissues around the eye
  • Inflammation in the mucous membrane of the eye
  • Secondary infection of the third eyelid is possible with cherry eye because of exposure to environmental elements and the loss of protective moisture found in the eye
  • Abnormal swelling and thickening prevent the third eyelid from returning to its normal position
  • Brachycephalic breeds (with wide, flat faces) have an eye structure that may require stronger tissues; therefore, we could say they are genetically predisposed to problems with the third eyelid
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Diagnosis of Cherry Eye in Dogs

You may notice that the cherry eye appearance of your dog’s eye may change in severity; at times, it could appear to be improving. However, this is a temporary improvement, and the prolapsing of the eyelid will eventually become a persistent problem. Do not delay taking your furry companion to the clinic because the bulge can easily become injured or infected. Not dealing with the issue of prolapsed third eyelid will eventually lead to the risk of chronic conjunctivitis, constant ocular discharge, and dry eye.

The veterinarian will do a thorough ocular examination, inspecting all aspects of the eye, to verify if there is a foreign object present and to check for pus related to additional infection. If your dog is a senior, testing may be done to rule out cancer. In general, though, a prolapsed third eyelid is a straightforward diagnosis.

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Treatment of Cherry Eye in Dogs

Prompt treatment of cherry eye will bring the most successful resolution. If the prolapse is apparent for only a day or two, there is a chance that anti-inflammatories (to reduce swelling), and medication to strengthen the ligaments may be enough to clear up the issue.

However, relapse is common and in many cases, medical treatment must involve surgical intervention. The most important part of the surgery will be to retain the tear gland. (In the past, the prolapsed lacrimal gland was often removed. Current veterinarian practice avoids this procedure.)

Two procedures are considered. The veterinarian will most likely refer you to an ophthalmologist for the surgery, as they specialize in ocular care. Of course, any infection or irritation will be attended to first, through ointments and antibiotics, before the surgery is scheduled.

  • Suturing the gland in place is one technique. The gland is tacked to the orbital rim
  • The pocket technique is surgery whereby a new pocket is made for the tear gland. The gland is protected by the tunnel put in place, and is tucked into the pocket, and then sutured
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Recovery of Cherry Eye in Dogs

The prognosis for recovery of surgery for prolapsed lacrimal gland is very good. You may see one to two weeks of inflammation before the eye begins to regain its normal appearance, but 7 to 10 days of ointment application and 5 to 10 days of oral antibiotics will assure that the eye heals properly, and infection is avoided.

As with any type of surgery, allow your furry family member to rest in a quiet area for several days. Short leash walks are permitted, but swimming and bathing are prohibited for at least two weeks.

Your dog will be required to wear an Elizabethan collar for a week or two, depending on how fast the eye appears to be healing, and how much your dog is attempting to rub the eye.

The veterinarian will want to check the eye after two weeks, and it is quite possible that an ocular exam will be recommended at every check up in the future. It should be noted that dogs predisposed to the condition are more apt to have a relapse. As well, even with surgery, 20% of canines who had had the cherry eye repaired could develop dry eye in later years.

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Cherry Eye Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $250 - $2,500

Average Cost

$600

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Cherry Eye Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Kalani

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Boykin Spaniel

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1 Year

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Cherry Eye

I adopted a Boykin spaniel (I’m told-she’s a rescue) in November. She was approximately 9-12 months old. The rescues vet (that I dont care for - I’m a former vet tech) has done the cherry eye repair twice. Plus an entropian surgery. The left eye doesn’t look like it took. When I was a tech we removed the gland. So I dont know what this new procedure is supposed to look like. I’m at a loss. She still has conjunctivitis, little discharge and is itchy all over (been on sensitive skin/stomach food for three months with no change). So do I try $100 allergy meds or do I spend $206 for an ophthalmologist specialist to look at her. Single mom here so not sure what to do.

May 16, 2018

Kalani's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

The old method of cherry eye surgery where the prolapsed gland was removed lead many patients to get dry eyes from a reduction in tear production since it is responsible for around a third of tear production; the procedure now (pocket technique) is to replace the gland so that it is no longer visible and is still able to function. There is a 10% recurrence rate with this surgery, which may occur at no fault of the Veterinarian; I would recommend to try to keep the gland to prevent any issues later on with a reduction of tear production. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 16, 2018

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Daxx

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pit bull terrier

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17 Months

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Disorientation
Discomfort

A few months ago my 1 and a half year old bully (pitbull) had cherry eye removed in both eyes. He hasnt had issues with it since,no drying out or discharge or anything, but we have noticed that when we wipe away his eye boogers he leans his head clear back and stares at the ceiling for 30 seconds or so. Could this be an effect from his cherry eyes being removed?

May 10, 2018

Daxx's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

This may be a pain response which may be related to the cherry eye surgery; but without examining Daxx I cannot say for certain. You should keep an eye on this and bring it up with your Veterinarian at Daxx next checkup to determine if there is anything which may need to be looked at more closely. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 11, 2018

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Jazz

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Shetland Sheepdog

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15 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Cherry Red Iris

Hi, I have used this service before with good advice. My dog, Jazz, is old and having some problems. The last time I sought advice, it had to do with having probable mini-strokes. Since then, I have noticed Jazz -- a Shetland Sheepdog -- having just one. Now, here's the problem: She has cataracts. Last week, the iris of the right eye went cherry red. A doctor friend thinks it's the result of a stroke and nothing can be done. He was wrong before with regard to the dog, that's why I am seeking advice from you. I'm not sure she can see out of that eye anymore. The outer eyelid stays open; and the white of her eyeball are still white, with spyder web red. Is there anything I can do? Would some kind of eye drops help? Would dog eye drops hurt the situation in anyway. She is 15 years old.

April 28, 2018

Jazz's Owner


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3320 Recommendations

There is no single cause for a red iris in dogs, this may be attributable to a few different possible causes including trauma, inflammation, rupture of blood vessels, glaucoma among other conditions. Canine ophthalmic antibiotic ointment wouldn’t do any harm in this situation and should be applied as directed on the product (different products have different administration intervals); there isn’t anything else over the counter I can recommend for Jazz for this, if there is no improvement you should visit a Veterinarian for an examination of the eye. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 29, 2018

Thanks. Since yesterday afternoon, the eye seems to be "dying" so hopefully the vet can see her on Monday. Jazz doesn't seem to be in pain, although she has pawed at the eye from time to time. A doctor (MD) friend suggests the eye may have to be removed to avoid further infection. So far, no puss, but the eye is definitely gone. Looks bad. He is worried that she may not be able to make it through the procedure because of her age. If you have no other comments, let me thank you now. Great service you and Waglwaking provide.

April 29, 2018

Jazz's Owner

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Matt

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Cockapoo

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Occasional Swelling, Redness,

Hi, we adopted Matt, a cockapoo a year and a half ago. The shelter wasn’t sure of his age(said 5 or 6) but our vet says he could between 9-11 years old. Already showing signs or cataract. He has a cherry eye in his right eye as well as a ‘mold’ under the same eye. Sometimes he scratches with his paw or along a wall/furniture. I wash his eye. Should I get it surgically taken care of or can he stay with the cherry eye?

April 3, 2018

Matt's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

'Cherry eye' occurs with the gland that produces tears is exposed to the outside air, and over the long term it can lead to dry-eye conditions if not repaired. Since I cannot examine Matt or see what is going on with his eyes, it would be a good idea to have him examined by a veterinarian, as they can advise you towards the best course of treatment. I hope that all goes well with him!

April 3, 2018

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Hazel

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Shar Pei

dog-age-icon

5 Months

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling ,Discharge

My dog had cherry eye surgery two weeks ago, she still hasn't opened her eyes. Took her back last week, the vet said her cornea is scratched from the suture, she still hasn't opened her eyes will this cause her to go blind

Feb. 12, 2018

Hazel's Owner


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3320 Recommendations

This shouldn’t cause her to go blind, but she should be opening her eyes by now. Without examining her I cannot say why she isn’t opening her eyes by now unless the cornea is irritated that much from the suture. Keep an eye on things for the time being and visit your Veterinarian again if there is no improvement. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Feb. 12, 2018

My 5 month old Rottweiler has this and I took her in to the vet right away, he put in a drop then used tweezers to pop it back into place, but said he’ll probably have to remove it, but from what I read removing it is pretty bad, should I take her to another vet?

Feb. 14, 2018

Jeremiah F.

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JJ

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Beagle Jack Russell

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Won’T Open Eyes

My beagle/jack Russell had double cherry eye surgery just over a week ago. He seemed to be doing fine, but today, he did not want to open his eyes. I assume he is dealing with itchiness. I am hoping I have not scratched his eyes while applying ointment. I will call the vet tomorrow.

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Snoop

dog-breed-icon

Chiweenie

dog-age-icon

7 Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Cherry Eye

So my brand new puppy who is 7 weeks old has developed cherry eye in his left eye. I took him to the vet and they gave me drops and said hopefully these will help and over time go back into place because he is too young for surgery. But I’ve bern reading on this and the longer it stays out the more damage it can do. He doesn’t turn 6 months till October and I’m really scared. Please any advice would be great. I really love him and hate to see him like this

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River

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Newfoundland

dog-age-icon

8 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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Na

My Newfoundland has cherry eye. He had surgery with a local vet . The day I took him home I pointed out that the gland was not tucked and told it was just the swelling. It never went away and I brought him back where they repeated the surgery. The gland appeared again two weeks later. I brought him to a specialist where I was told the cartilage has been damaged we tucked the eye again in hopes it would stay. It has been a couple months and it is showing but not as bad. I have not called the specialist yet to find out the next step. What should I do remove the gland or leave it? Either way I’m medicating the eye two/ three times daily

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Murphy

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Lhasa Apso

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Blindness

My dog got cherry eye repair surgery (left eye only) a month ago in which the vet tucked in the gland. About 3-weeks after the cherry eye surgery, my dog is diagnosed with SARDS (Sudden Acute Retinal Degeneration Syndrome) on both eyes and is completely blind. His right eye was functioning fine. Now both eyes are blind. How can this happen? I'm wondering if the surgery gone wrong. Did the cherry eye surgery impact his retinas? Did the surgery cause SARDS or some kind of retinal nerve detachment happened during the surgery? I'm devastated!

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Kota

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Beagle

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Redness
Swelling
Irritation
Dry Eyes

My dog is a year old, and was diagnosed with cherry eye about 8 months ago. He was only a few months old,and the vet said not to get any kind of surgery on a dog that is less than a year old. I took him to the vet a couple of months ago to a different vet, and they said he needs surgery right away. they wanted $1300 up front, or they refused to take him in. They were even going to charge us for medical supplies. since my puppy has had cherry eyes for this long, will it cause permanent damage to his eyes? What is the general cost of having a cherry eye surgery?

Cherry Eye Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $250 - $2,500

Average Cost

$600