Cherry Eye Syndrome in Dogs

Cherry Eye Syndrome is a described as the prolapse of the Nictitating Membrane (NM) gland or the gland of the third eyelid. Nictitating Membrane is a triangular shaped structure which provides support, tear gland (tear production) and protection to the surface of the eye. When the base of the gland flips up, it causes inflammation and swelling. This condition can occur in one or both eyes. By Appearance it looks like a pink/red tissue mass protruding from the eyelid. It is also called Third eye (Nictating Membrane) Abnormality, Nictitating Membrane and Membrana Nictitans (Haw).

Cherry Eye Syndrome can occur in one or both eyes. By appearance, it resembles like a small pink bulb like looking tissue or mass protruding from the third eyelid.

Dog breeds having a disease predisposition include:
› Basset Hound
› Beagle
› Bloodhound
› Boston Terrier
› Boxer
› American Cocker Spaniel
› Bulldog
› German Shorthaired Pointer
› Irish Setter
› Lhasa Apso
› Neapolitan Mastiff
› Newfoundland
› Poodle Miniature
› St. Bernard
› Chinese Shar Pei
› Shih Tzu
› Weimaraner
› Cane Corso


In 95 % cases, Cherry Eye Syndrome is a result of the weakness of the tissue which aids in the ligament attachment of the third eyelid.

Other causes include a genetic predisposition, infections which cause an inflammation of the glands and Idiopathic (unknown) causes.

Clinical Signs & Symptoms

The most remarkable clinical sign in the protrusion of a small mass from the third eyelid.

Common symptoms seen are:
› Pink / red mass in the corner of the eye
› Epiphora (Watery eyes)
› Recurrent Ocular Discharges
› Thick discharge from the eyes
› Redness in the eye
› Discomfort


Veterinarians will require a complete history of your dog which includes medical history, vaccination records, existing health concerns, current and previous medications, onset of symptoms, diet and exercise routine and any information which can help in establishing a correct diagnosis. Diagnosis is done with a combination of tests. These include routine lab examinations and special tests. They are:

› Physical Examination
› Complete eye examination – this usually concludes the diagnosis. A surgical removal of the gland is performed.


Surgery is generally the preferred treatment of choice.

Other treatment option aims at minimizing stress, discomfort and eye pain. These include:

› Anti-inflammatory medications
› Antibiotic medications
› Eye ointments

Post surgery, it is strongly recommended using an Elizabethan collar. This limits a pet from pawing, scratching, rubbing the surface of the eye. It also prevents mishaps and accidents.


There is no known prevention for Cherry Eye Syndrome. Early examination and diagnosis is always recommended.

Home Care

Home care should aim at improving the condition. Treatments can take a few days up-to a week. If you observe any behavioral changes, or if the condition does not improve, please contact your veterinarian.

Prognosis is always good post surgery. Most pets are treated on an outpatient basis.

› It is mandatory to provide a stress-free environment for your dog. Keep water and food bowls within reach. Avoid physical activity. Keep your dogs away from any noise and commotions.
› You have to administer and monitor all prescribed medicine as directed by your veterinarian.
› Do NOT travel with your dog.
› Do NOT allow your dog to roam freely, it reduces the chances of contracting other infections which can affect the eye.
› Use of environmental disinfectants is recommended. Prompt disposal of any and all materials after use is suggested.
› A well planned, nutritious diet post recovery is necessary in such conditions.
› Always keep sharp objects covered and fragile objects away from pets to avoid the risk of injury and accidents.

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