Cherry Eye Surgery for Dogs

Cherry eye surgery is required when antibiotics and steroids fail to help. In most cases, your dog's best option is to have the surgery performed to prevent additional injury or infection.

Any dog can develop cherry eye, but Beagles, Bloodhounds, Boston or Bull Terriers, Bulldogs, Cocker Spaniels, Mastiffs, Pekinese, Saint Bernards and Shar Peis seem to have a higher prevalence.

Understanding Cherry Eye

Dogs have a third eyelid with a tear gland that keeps the surface of the eye lubricated. Cherry eye occurs when the gland of a dog's third eyelid shifts out of position and then swells up. The ailment presents itself as a popped out, very red, swollen eye corner.

Once the corner area of the eye swells up, dirt, dust and other contaminants can get into the the eyelid or gland and cause infection. If this happens, mucus may appear and the dog will rub at his eye for relief.

Symptoms of Cherry Eye

It's rare that you will not notice cherry eye. The red, swollen eye is alarming and often appears overnight. Once you've spotted the swelling, contact your veterinarian immediately. Putting it off may lead to eye injury, especially if the dog scratches to try to relieve the pressure caused by mucus that may be present.

Use of Antibiotics and Steroids to Treat Cherry Eye

Antibiotics and Steroids may be offered to relieve swelling and discomfort caused by Cherry Eye. This can delay the necessity for surgery, but be aware that the ailment will return. Only cherry eye surgery can prevent cherry eye from reoccurring.

Problem with Full Gland Removal

There are two possible cherry eye surgery techniques. One is to remove the swollen gland completely and the other involves shifting the gland back to the proper position.

During surgery, veterinarians discovered that removing the entire gland of the third eyelid posed a problem. The gland produces tears that keep the eye moist. There is a second tear gland above the eye, but if it cannot produce enough tears, the dog develops dry eye. Dry eye is incurable and requires the use of eye drops to keep the eye lubricated. Many dogs loathe having things dropped into their eye, so vets avoid full removal.

Information on Replacement Cherry Eye Surgery

If a dog has cherry eye, surgery is the common treatment option. During this procedure, there are two options.

The first option involves pushing the gland back into place and then using a stitch to hold it there. The problem with this surgery method is that the stitch might pop and then scratch at the delicate surface of the eye. When this happens, the stitch will need to be removed and then replaced with a new stitch. If the gland has fallen back out of place, it will need to be repositioned again before the new suture. This can become expensive and the scratched eye can be painful to a dog.

The newer, safer procedure involves slicing away a portion of tissue over the gland to create a gap. The gap is stitched closed and the new, tighter area holds the gland in proper position. With this surgery, there is a greater risk of infection and swelling of the eyelid tissue is common.