Unlike humans, dogs have a third eyelid located in the corner of each eye where the tear duct is located. In normal cases, these eyelids are not seen for they are tucked hidden within the eye tissues.
Although Cherry Eye can affect any breed, sex and age of dog, some breeds of dogs are more predisposed to developing the condition. These breeds include the Beagle, Lhasa Apso, Saint Bernard, Bull Terrier, Boston Terrier, and the Bloodhound.
The genes may play an important part in the occurrence of Cherry Eye however some veterinarians blame its occurrence on the weak connective tissues of the eye that allow the third eyelid to pop out of its proper position, medically termed as prolapse. When this happens, the gland is exposed to irritants in the air paving the way for inflammation and possible secondary infections.
The main clinical manifestation of Cherry Eye is the characteristic reddish or pinkish tissue that protrudes at the corner of the dog’s eye. Irritation and inflammation may cause itching and your dog may try to scratch at its inflamed eye. Eye discharges may also be present.
Once you bring your dog to your Veterinarian, he will first perform a physical examination and an eye examination which will include making an assessment of the affected eye’s tear production performance. He will also check the cornea and other eye tissues for any signs of eye problems.
The first line of treatment for Cherry Eye in dogs is a combination of antibiotics and topical anti-inflammatory drugs. The antibiotics will protect the eye from secondary bacterial infections while the anti-inflammatory drug will help relieve the swelling and inflammation. However, this line of treatment is merely done to alleviate the existing conditions brought about by the prolapsed of the third eyelid.
Surgery is the best option in treating Cherry Eye in dogs. The first surgical option is an attempt to return the prolapsed gland to its normal position and the second option is the complete removal of the gland when the existing conditions make it difficult to suture the prolapsed gland back into its normal anatomical position.