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. Commonly affected
breeds include the Bulldog, Cocker Spaniel, Beagle,
Pekingese, Neapolitan Mastiff, and Basset Hound.
Cherry eye may be caused by a hereditary weakness
in the connective tissue surrounding the gland.
It is most common in puppies.
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
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. Modern methods of cherry eye
correction involve repositioning of the gland to
its normal location. The success rate of this type
of surgery is around 80% in most breeds.
While most common in dogs,
the condition is also found in certain breeds of
cat as well, particularly the Burmese and Bombay.