Issue Description Cherry eye is the term used to refer to canine
nictitans gland prolapse, a common eye condition in various dog breeds
where the gland of the third eyelid known as the nictitating membrane
prolapses and becomes visible. Other Names Canine Nictitans Gland Prolapse
Causes Cherry eye may be caused by a hereditary
weakness in the connective tissue surrounding the gland. It is most
common in puppies.
Breeds Affected Any dog can develop cherry eye, but there are
several breeds that appear to have a higher incidence of developing it
in both eyes. They are: the Basset Hound, Beagle, Bloodhound, Boston
Terrier, Bulldog, Bull Terrier, Chihuahua, Cocker Spaniel, Lhasa Apso,
Neapolitan Mastiff, Saint Bernard, and Shar-Pei. Dogs can acquire this
condition at any age and it affects males and females equally.
Symptoms It appears as a red mass in the inner corner of
the eye, and is sometimes mistaken for a tumor. After gland prolapse,
the eye becomes chronically inflamed and there is often a discharge.
Because the gland is responsible for about 30% of the eye's tear
production, the eye can eventually suffer from dryness
(keratoconjunctivitis sicca). Dry eye may eventually occur in 30 to 40
percent of dogs that have the gland removed, yet it may affect about
20 percent of dogs that have the gland surgically replaced.
Treatment Surgery is the usual treatment. Older methods
of cherry eye correction (before the gland's purpose was known)
involved simply removing the gland, but this is a last-resort
procedure today, and necessitates the use of eyedrops for the rest of
the animal's life.