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page last updated March 24, 2011  
Cherry Eye....

"Cherry Eye" or Glandular hypertrophy  is simply an enlargement of the gland of the third eyelid with resultant prolapse. Cocker spaniels and bulldogs seem to be predisposed to this disorder. Cherry eye is also commonly seen in Beagles,  Bloodhounds, Great Danes, Lhasa Apsos, and Basset hounds.  

Typically it occurs is dogs less than one year old.  Sometimes as early as 8 weeks and as late as 10 years of  age.  An inflammation and/or a lack of connective tissue bands which hold the gland in place,  are thought to be causes of this condition.  Typically trauma does not cause this but; many experts believe there is a genetic component to developing this problem.  Some data indicates that it may be a simple recessive mode of transmission.

Treatment may consist of simple application of an appropriate ophthalmic ointment and reduction of the prolapse by your veterinarian. However once placed back in its proper position, typically they will pop back out and then you must surgically treat them.  Since 30% of the dog's tear production can come from the involved gland-you must discuss each option with your veterinarian carefully.  DRY EYE or keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS)  can result from its removal. Since beagles are prone to develop DRY EYE - this is a major reason to not surgically remove the gland.  Although this is a method used widely in the USA.

 

The two methods for surgical treatment are:
1.  TACKING--this method is when a properly trained veterinarian (not all vets are trained in this procedure) surgically sutures the gland back into its normal position.  The tear production is not altered with this method.  There is chance that the cherry eye will pop back out.  Some resources have it at 10-30% reoccurrence rate.

2.  REMOVAL--this method is quick and usually a cautery procedure is used.  The gland is removed.

Here are two good links concerning this problem:

EYE VET CONSULTING SERVICES

CORNELL UNIVERSITY - CHERRY EYE - ARTICLE


Non Surgical method for fixing Cherry Eyes

Many people have asked about the technique for putting Cherry Eyes back, without surgery. So here is how we do it, its not hard, but it does work in many cases and prevents any surgery. You may have to do it several times to get the gland to stay in permanently.
Let me also express my opinions about why we get Cherry Eyes and what causes it. Obviously there is a genetic tendency towards dogs getting Cherry Eyes, but it is obviously not a simple inheritance, as I did one breed a dog and bitch, who had both had Cherry Eyes, and none of the 5 puppies got Cherry Eyes!
I find that the popping of Cherry Eyes occurs when the dog is stressed. Now this stress can be caused by many things, some of which we do not even perceive as stress, but their body does. Some of the most usual stresses are:

  • Immunization
  • Car Trips (especially if they get car sick)
  • Changing or going to a new home
  • Teething

And I have even had an adult “pop” a Cherry Eye” when whelping.

OK, so now lets move on to the technique…… 

What we are trying to do is to push the gland back behind and under the eyeball, so that the eyeball can hold it in place.
Before you start be prepared with an ice cube wrapped in a cloth, to hold over the eye, when you get the gland back in place (to take swelling down) 
Imagine that the Cherry Eye is a pea, what you are going to do is use your thumb to roll it up and over the bony orbital rim of the eye socket, when you get it there, you will try to roll it down the other (inner) side, and as you do this the eyeball will be gently pushed back and will hold the gland in place.
This may take you a couple of attempts, until you have mastered the technique (and some people never do master it!)


Now you need to put the ice pack on the eye and hold it there as long as possible (or the dog will allow you to.)
Also if you have some cortisone drops or ointment put this in the eye 3 times a day for 3 days (to help the inflammation go down. 
Now you may have to do this several times a day, with greater increasing times between putting it back, if things are going well. 

I have found that if it has been out for a while, its harder to be successful with this – attending to it as soon as possible definitely help. If it has been out a while, try lubricating the eye with some artificial tears, before attempting putting it back, dry eyes do not work as well.

If this is unsuccessful, then you will have to get a vet to tack the gland back, be warned though, sometimes the stress of having this done, can be enough to make the other eye pop – so have them check the other eye, when the dog is out!

Good Luck - David and Lesley Hiltz

Another reference which describes this technique