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

    Norwich Terrier

    History & Overview It is assumed that this plucky little Norwich Terrier evolved from English country breeding small...

    Bulbs and Perennial Gardens

    Overview Bulbs belong in the perennial garden. After all, they are perennial, and they grow like other perennials. It's hard...

    Neurotic Dogs

    Nervous Energy Sometimes, your dog can become nervous and afraid of walking in town. It is not your...

    Havana Brown

    History & Overview This breed was created in England in the 1950s, and is so named because its...

    Goat’s Beard

    Overview The Goat's beard (Aruncus dioicus) is a large, showy perennial shrubby plant. They have broad leaflets and...