Prolapsed Gland of the Third Eyelid (Cherry Eye)

    Related Articles

    What Is A Third Eyelid Gland Prolapse?

    Prolapse of the gland of the third eyelid, sometimes called “cherry eye”, is a condition which usually develops during the first year of life. All dogs have three eyelids: an upper, a lower, and a third eyelid that is usually out of sight.

    The third eyelid acts like a windshield wiper and helps protect the eye. Sometimes the third eyelid can prolapse or pop out, and a mass of red tissue will be seen in the inside corner of the eye.

    Susceptible Dog Breeds

    This condition is known to affect young dogs, especially:

    If one eye has cherry eye, the other eye could be predisposed to it as well.

    “Cherry eye” also affects cats. Burmese and Persian cats are more prone to developing this condition than most other cat breeds. If the condition is left untreated, it may go away on its own in two or three weeks, but in other cases, it leads to further eye diseases.


    The exact cause of the prolapse is unknown but is considered to be a weakness of the connective tissue around the gland. The gland starts to move and becomes irritated. Irritation leads to swelling, clear or mucous discharge, bleeding and ulceration.

    Left untreated, this may result in conjunctivitis. Eyelids may become inflamed from dermatitis, a bacterial, parasitic, or fungal infection, a metabolic or immune system problem, cancers, trauma or sun damage. It is also a common congenital defect that can be passed from one generation to another.


    Treatment involves a surgical procedure where the prolapsed gland is pushed back in its pocket. This procedure can be performed under local anesthesia. The complete removal of the third eyelid is still performed in small animal clinics in some cases.

    Still, this type of surgery adversely affects the stability of the tear layer of the eye as this layer is responsible for about 30% of the overall tear production. Removal of a prolapsed gland of the third eyelid predisposes a dog to develop keratoconjunctivitis sicca (“dry eye”).


    The prognosis for cases treated by replacing the gland is excellent.

    Video Credits: Greg Martinez DVM
    Image Credits: Eye Care For Animals


    Other Topics

    Sarcococca confusa (Sweet Box)

    Overview These little evergreen shrubs all flower in midwinter. The delicious vanilla fragrance from the tiny blooms wafts...


    Overview The Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), or Fish Hawk, sights its prey while hovering, then plunges feet first into...

    Optic Nerve Hypoplasia

    Overview Two important congenital disorders that affect the optic nerve and optic disk in dogs are Coloboma which...

    Segugio Italiano (Italian Hound)

    History & Overview The Segugio Italiano, or Italian Hound, is an ancient breed of scenthounds. The origins of...

    Azawakh (Tuareg Sloughi/ Azawakh Hound)

    History & Overview Azawakh, also known as Tuareg Sloughi and Azawakh hound, is an African sighthound of the...