Everted Third Eyelid in Dogs

Under normal conditions, the third eyelid is structurally held in place by fibrous material. In some cases, however, the third eyelid can protrude, developing a condition known as cherry eye or an everted third eyelid in dogs. Although this is not a life-threatening condition, it can interfere with a dog’s field of vision and, therefore, must be treated.

Breed Predilection

There does appear to some genetic tendency in certain dog breeds for developing an everted third eyelid. Breeds that normally have droopy appearances of the eye, or breeds in which they eyes are covered by rolls of skin, such as the Great Dane, English Bulldog and Saint Bernard, are genetically predisposed to developing the condition. Although Golden Retrievers don’t really carry this same type of appearance around the eyes, research has indicated that they carry a genetic tendency toward this medical condition.

It is important to remember that just because a dog is not genetically predisposed to an everted third eyelid does not mean that it cannot happen. On the contrary, an interruption of the structural integrity of the eye, such as trauma, can cause everted third eyelids in dogs to develop.

Health Factors of a Third Eyelid

The appearance of everted third eyelids in dogs can be somewhat misleading. Although the look of condition is not very attractive, there is no reason to fear that a dog’s life is in jeopardy. Everted third eyelids in dogs do require medical attention and treatment, but not because they pose serious health risks.

In most cases, repair of an everted third eyelid is a cosmetic decision. In rare cases, however, the cornea can become irritated, and vision may be compromised. In other cases, continuous rubbing of the eye caused by the third eyelid can cause infection to develop, so it is always best to have the condition medically corrected.

Signs and Symptoms of a Third Eyelid in Dogs

Everted third eyelids in dogs are typically very noticeable. The condition causes a cartilaginous-looking mass to appear in the corner of the eye. The mass is typically red and may be swollen or irritated. In some cases, the eyelid will protrude and reduce on its own; other times it may remain present at all times. This condition can appear in one eye or both eyes simultaneously.

Diagnosis of the Condition

Everted third eyelids in dogs can be diagnosed by appearance only. There are no invasive or diagnostic measures needed to make this type of diagnosis. Simply by looking at the eye and its surrounding structures, a veterinarian will be able to make the determination that the third eyelid is everted.

Treatment and Management of an Everted Eyelid

The only true method of management for dogs with an everted eyelid is surgical correction. During surgery, some or all of the cartilage from the third eyelid may be removed. Once this has been done, the eyelid can unfold normally, and the structural integrity of the third eyelid is restored.

Some dog owners, however, may elect not to have surgery performed. When this is the case, a veterinarian may prescribe optical eye ointments to reduce inflammation and irritation. Although this cannot cure the condition, it can help reduce the likely hood of infection and compromised vision.