Frequently Asked Questions
"Cherry eye" is properly called PROLAPSE OF THE GLAND OF THE THIRD EYELID.
Dogs have a third eyelid in the inner corner of the eye nearest the nose.
It serves as a "windshield wiper" distributing the tear film over the eye.
It also contains a tear-producing gland which accounts for about 50% of the
tear production in the eye. In young Shar-Pei puppies, this gland will
occasionally break loose from its attachment in the third eyelid and "pop" up
and appear as a swelling in the corner of the eye. It often will appear red
and inflamed, although it doesn't seem to bother the dog too much.
This condition must be surgically corrected using a "tacking" procedure
which re-attaches the gland to its position in the third eyelid or a "pocket
technique". While it is not a difficult surgery there is about a 10-20% recurrence
rate and the surgery has to be repeated. Some veterinarians advise removal of
the gland, but this could result in decreased tear production later on and a
condition known as "dry eye" or KCS. In my opinion the "pocket technique" is
the easiest procedure and should be tried first. In the Shar-Pei, entropion
may be a complicating factor in cherry eye in that the eyelashes rub on the
third eyelid and may cause irritation resulting in prolapse of the gland. The
eyelids may be tacked along with the cherry eye correction.
The above diagrams illustrate the basics of the pocket technique. Diagram A.
shows the initial incisions made parallel to the edge of the third eyelid on the
inner surface, above and below the prolapsed gland. In Diagram B. a pocket is
created by undermining the bottom incision in the direction of the medial lower
conjunctival fornix - the posterior or bulbar portion. Diagram C. shows the
suturing together of the two incisions using 6-0 Vicryl™ in either a continuous
or interrupted suture pattern. The knots should be buried and the ends of the
incisions should be left open a little bit to allow drainage of tears from the
pocket which prevents formation of a "pseudocyst". Finally, Diagram D. shows
the final position of the gland of the third eyelid following this procedure.
(Morgan RV, et al: Prolapse of the gland of the third eyelid in dogs:
A retrospective study of 89 cases (1980-1990). J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 29:56, 1993.)