JUST AFTER CHERRY EYE SURGERY

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A prolapsed gland of the nictitans, commonly called cherry eye, is when there is a cherry-red swelling that appears to lớn sit on the dog’s eye. Photo: VellicosCherry eye is a condition that sounds like what it is: a cherry-red swelling that appears khổng lồ sit on the eye.

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This condition looks dramatic and yet it doesn’t bother the pet so much as the pet parent. But what exactly is this startling condition, & what does it mean for your dog? That’s what we’ll explore in this vet-written article.

Below are 8 big things you should know about cherry eye in dogs.


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1. The “Cherry” in Cherry Eye = Prolapsed Tear Gland

So, what exactly is cherry eye?

The red swelling is a gland that isn’t normally seen because it sits snuggled up on the underside of the third eyelid. This gland’s job is to lớn produce tear fluid to lớn keep the eye moist and help flush away dust.

In some dogs, this gland pops out (or prolapses) from beneath the third eyelid, which is when we see it as a red swelling. For those who want to lớn get technical, the gland’s name is the nictitans gland and the technically correct term for cherry eye is prolapse of the nictitans gland (PNG).

And for those wondering what a third eyelid is, this is an extra eyelid that cats and dogs have. It sits on the inside corner of the eye and sweeps across the eye’s surface like a gentle broom lớn clear away dust và debris, và serves as a protective shield. Clever stuff.

2. Cherry Eye Is Not a Cancer or Growth

As alarming as cherry eye looks, it’s reassuring khổng lồ know this isn’t a tumor or cancerous growth.

It’s merely a normal tear gland sitting in the wrong place, which is then exposed to the air and becomes angry-looking as a result. In its new position the gland still valiantly works away at its job of producing 70% of the watery part of the eyes’ moisturizing tear fluid.

Cherry eye is not usually painful for the dog, even though it looks unsightly. Neither is it dangerous khổng lồ the dog’s health, although complications such as a runny eye, corneal ulcers, or eye infections may develop over time.


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3. Young Dogs Are Most Commonly Affected

Cherry eye is a condition that mainly affects young dogs, under 2 years of age.

You could almost say if a dog has had 2 birthdays & never had cherry eye, then your pet pal is unlikely khổng lồ develop this condition. This is because some of the factors that predispose them to lớn cherry eye are inherited và make the condition likely khổng lồ show up early in life.

In fact, 83% of canine patients who present with cherry eye are less than 1 year old.

4. Breed & Face Shape Are Risk Factors

Some dog breeds carry a higher risk of developing cherry eye than others. These include:

Another risk factor is face shape and how snuggly the eyelids fit around the eye.

If a dog has droopy eyelids (ectropion), then by its very nature this means the eyelids, including the third eyelid, are a poor fit. When the third eyelid in particular is a bit baggy, this makes it easier for weight of the nictitans gland to push the eyelid even farther forward và then pop out of place.

5. Surgical Removal Is Actually a Bad Idea

We tend lớn remove lumps on dogs. Go back a couple of decades, & removal was the treatment of choice for cherry eye. It seemed obvious back then that removing the unsightly swelling would sort out the problem.


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However, with the benefit of hindsight, veterinarians now know that the only benefit was cosmetic (getting rid of the red swelling) và in the long term can cause complications.

Surgically removing the prolapsed nictitans gland is a bit lượt thích turning off the water supply as a permanent fix for a leaking sink: It fixes the short-term issue but with long-term disadvantages. So, yes, the leaking sink isn’t a problem, but neither is there running water to lớn wash the dishes. Thus, removing the gland gets rid of the ugly lump, but sadly the eye no longer produces as much tear fluid, which can lead to lớn a dry eye.

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A lack of tear fluid can tip some dogs over into a condition known as dry eye. As the name suggests, here the eye doesn’t have enough natural lubrication, which makes it hot và itchy. As well as being very uncomfortable, in an attempt lớn protect the eye, this leads to scar tissue and pigment forming on the clear cornea, which the impairs vision (like wearing a pair of dirty eyeglasses).

6. What Happens If Cherry Eye Is Not Treated?

If surgical removal of the cherry eye is a bad idea, then what happens if a pet parent decides to lớn take no kích hoạt at all?

In the short term, cherry eye is largely a cosmetic problem. However, with the nictitans gland exposed to lớn the air, it dries out (in the same way your mouth dries out when you sleep with it open), which causes irritation, inflammation và discomfort. This may cause the dog to lớn rub at the face, which then risks damage khổng lồ the cornea and ulcer formation.

A sore, inflamed eye is also more likely to become infected, leading lớn a thick green-yellow discharge & more irritation. This leads khổng lồ a vicious circle of irritation, rubbing và further damage, with the potential for permanent damage or even loss of the eye.

Also, optimal eye health depends on everything being in the right place. When in the correct position, the third eyelid protects a small reservoir of tear fluid called the lacrimal lake, which keeps the cornea moist. With the shape and position of the third eyelid distorted by the prolapsed nictitans gland, this reservoir leaks away.

One symptom of this is the eye appears teary & the dog may have a permanently wet cheek.


7. Surgical Repair of Cherry Eye

Rather than vì nothing about cherry eye, corrective surgery is recommended.

But here comes a subtle difference from the past, because the surgery isn’t about removing the gland but repositioning it in the correct place, snuggled up safe behind the third eyelid.

There are a number of techniques that surgeons have developed over the years. These have one thing in common: They are variations on using fine-gauge suture material to anchor the nictitans gland into the correct position.

This is tricky surgery for a number of reasons. The first reason it’s tricky is because it means anchoring the gland to lớn tissue deep down near the skull. Secondly, this is small-scale surgery, so it’s only possible khổng lồ take small bits of tissue. That means it’s fairly easy for the suture lớn slip out of position post-surgery and the cherry eye recur.

Most surgeons warn of a high recurrence rate because of these difficulties. It’s not unusual lớn need to repeat the surgery lớn get a successful outcome.

8. Complications of Cherry Eye Surgery

The most common complication of cherry eye surgery in dogs is that the gland pops out again.

The failure rates vary depending on the technique but can be as high as 58%. In practical terms, this means a 1-in-2 chance of needing a repeat procedure.

As for the actual surgery, the most common complication is an ulcer forming on the corneal surface. This may happen if one of the tiny surgical knots breaks miễn phí and starts to rub on the surface of the eye. When detected early (part of the reason for the post-op checks), these ulcers can be treated.

An important part of reducing the risk of complications is that the patient must wear an Elizabethan cone until the eye has healed. Failure to vì so means the dog may rub their face và dislodge the sutures, và then everything goes back lớn square one.

This video shows a veterinarian pushing the third eyelid back into place in the office, although this solution may only be temporary:

Final Thoughts on Cherry Eye

Let’s recap. What vày we now know about cherry eye in dogs?

The red cherry is a tear gland that has popped out of place.Cherry eye is not a cancer or tumor.Young dogs from certain breeds are most likely khổng lồ develop cherry eye.Cherry eye looks unsightly but is not dangerous in the short term.Over the long term, though, the gland may become swollen and angry-looking.Surgical removal of the gland is not advised.The treatment of choice is surgical anchoring of the gland into its proper position.Surgery does have a high failure rate, so be prepared for repeat surgery.

If you have a dog from an at-risk breed, you should have cherry eye on your radar. & if this condition occurs in your dog, don’t panic. Instead, have a discussion with your vet about what’s best for your pet.

References


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This pet health nội dung was written by a veterinarian, Dr. Pippa Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS. It was last reviewed Oct. 13, 2020.
If you have questions or concerns, call your vet, who is best equipped to ensure the health and well-being of your pet. This article is for informational purposes only & is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See additional information.
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