"Cherry Eye" is a term used for prolapse of the gland of the third eyelid. When the gland prolapses, owners will notice a red lump in the corner of their dog’s eye or eyes.
Dogs receive their tear film from two tear-producing glands. One gland is located in the upper eyelid and the other is located in the lower lid within the pet's third eyelid. The gland of the third eyelid contributes a good portion of the tear film to the eye. When out of its normal position, blood does not circulate properly within the gland and it may swell. It is usually not painful to the dog but it will interfere with normal tear production.
The exact cause of "Cherry Eye" is not known, but it is thought to be secondary to a weakness of the tissue that holds the gland in place. Some breads especially Beagles, Boston terriers, Cocker spaniels, and bulldogs have a higher incidence of this condition.
The only acceptable treatment of "Cherry Eye" is replacement of the gland to its proper location. Preservation of the gland is the goal. Years ago many vets simply removed the gland but the importance of preserving tear production is now recognized. There are two techniques commonly used to replace the gland. Your veterinarian or a veterinary ophthalmologist will decide which technique to use. Complications from "Cherry Eye" surgery are usually rare but recurrence is common. Some swelling after "Cherry Eye" surgery is normal but this should resolve and the eye should be normal in appearance in about 7 days. If the eye suddenly changes in the appearance or it appears painful, it is important to contact your veterinarian right away.