Cherry Eye in Dogs

"Cherry eye" refers to the prolapse of the gland of the third eyelid. This page looks at the symptoms and causes of cherry eye. The preferred conventional treatment of this dog eye condition is to surgically reposition the gland. Natural remedies such as herbs can be used post-surgery to support the dog's eye health.

Dogs have a "third eyelid" that contains a tear gland that helps with the production of tears. It is located in the corner of each eye. Normally, you cannot see this gland.

Canine cherry eye is an eye condition in which the gland of this third eyelid comes out of its normal position and becomes red and swollen, making it looks like a cherry - thus the name cherry eye. Medically, cherry eye is known as "nictitans gland prolapse", or "prolapse of the gland of the third eyelid".

Cherry Eye in Dogs As you can see from the picture, it is not difficult to miss that a dog has developed cherry eye. You can see the red mass in the corner of the affected eye, and because of that, there may be eye discharge and your dog may paw at the eye. Cherry eye in dogs is not really painful; however, since the third eyelid's function is to help produce tears, a protruded third eyelid means that it cannot function normally. As a result, there will be inadequate tears and hence lubrication of the eye. This can lead to infections.

Cherry eye can occur to dogs at any age and it affects males and females equally.

Certain breeds of dogs are predisposed to this eye condition. They include:

  • American Cocker Spaniel
  • Bulldog
  • Beagle
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Shar-pei
  • Shih tzu
  • Boston Terrier
  • Bull Terrier
  • Bloodhound

Causes of Cherry Eye in Dogs

While the exact cause is not exactly clear, it is generally believed that the condition is the result of a weakness of the connective tissue that attaches the gland of the third eyelid to the surrounding eye structures. Because of the weakness of the connective tissue, the gland pops out and is dislocated. As a result, the normally hidden-away gland is suddenly exposed to the air and airborne irritants that can cause it to become red, swollen, and infected.

Treatment for Dogs with Cherry Eye

The preferred conventional treatment of this eye condition is to surgically reposition the gland. Complete removal of the gland is not advisable because the gland of the third eyelid is responsible for producing around 35 percent of the watery part of tears. Removing this gland will result in a condition called dry eye.

According to some holistic veterinarians, if you notice that your dog has cherry eye, it may be possible to treat the problem medically such as the use of herbal eyedrops or herbal remedies if such treatment is given at an early stage. On the other hand, if medical treatment is not given to the dog early on, then surgical repositioning of the gland is the only solution. Therefore, it is advisable to get your dog to a holistic veterinarian the moment you notice that he has cherry eye.

Here is a video that gives a brief explanation of the causes and treatment options of cherry eye in dogs:

Herbal Remedies for Cherry Eye in Dogs

If your dog's cherry eye has been treated by surgical repositioning of the gland, you can use some herbs to support eye health after the surgery to help speed up recovery.

Some useful herbs include:

  • Bilberry: This herb contains anthocyanoside flavonoids which have an affinity for the connective tissues in the eye. They provide structural support for the retina, cornea, and other constituents of the eye.
  • Chrysanthemum: This herb is widely used in China to treat inflammation of the eyes, dry eye, weeping eyes, and blurred vision.
  • Rehmannia: This herb has anti-inflammatory properties and is rich in vitamins A, B, C, and amino acids. It is also used in Asia to treat inflammation of the eyes.
  • Lycium fruit: This Chinese herb contains high amounts of b-carotene, amino acids, as well as vitamins B and C. It has long been used in China to support eye health.

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Natural Herbal Products for Eye Health

If you would like to support the eye health of your dog, you may want to take a look at these natural herbal products:

This Chinese herbal formula contains a lot of beneficial herbs for the eye, such as chrysanthemum, lycium fruit, and rehmannia. It is effective for many eye conditions such as eye infections and inflammation, dry eye, conjunctivitis, cloudy eyes, etc.

This supplement contains bilberry extract and is beneficial for eye health.