The condition known as Cherry Eye is the prolapse of a gland in the third eyelid, giving the affected pet the very distinctive appearance of a small “cherry” at the corner of the pet’s eye. The gland is important for proper tear production which helps protect the eye from drying out and becoming infected, so it is important to preserve the gland by replacing it back into the third eyelid instead of removing it. Sometimes the prolapsed gland will resolve on its own or with help from medications. If it does not, the gland may be replaced surgically under general anesthesia. A cherry eye may happen in one eye, or both, and certain breeds are more prone to this condition than others.
After carefully protecting the eye with moistened gauze, Dr. Winkler uses the surgical laser to create a new pocket in the third eyelid. The great advantage of the laser here is cauterizing the tiny blood vessels in the third eyelid which usually bleed in such a procedure, allowing for much greater visualization of the area and a quicker, more efficient surgery. After replacing the gland, the pocket is then carefully closed to keep sutures from rubbing on the eye itself while allowing the gland to continue to release tears onto the eye.
Following the procedure, your pet is discharged with an eye ointment and an Elizabethan collar to prevent interference with the sutures. The sutures are tiny and absorbed by the body, and so rarely need to be removed. Re-occurrence of the condition is rare but not unknown. A referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist is recommended for more serious conditions of the eye or gland, or if the prolapse happens again following the procedure.