Recently I have received a lot of questions from pet owners about a condition in dogs called Cherry Eye. Here’s a note I wanted to share: Having read your advice re: Cherry Eye, my English Mastiff, 8 months old, has had this for 2 weeks. Quite prominent now! Our vet has prescribed NeoPolyDex Eye Drops, hoping to void surgery. But what is this about MASSAGE? Can you please EXPLAIN? Surgery is so very expensive and the poor guy!
You can massage the eye back into place and your vet can show how to do this very easily. Cherry Eye is by definition a prolapse of the Gland of the Nictitans. In other words the gland near the inner corner of the eye (nearest to the nose) which is also called the 3rd eyelid and is responsible for producing the tears that bathe the eye and keep it moist has prolapsed. It looks like a “cherry” as it is pink and fleshy and “pops” in and out of place. Despite its appearance, it is not painful to dogs. The key is to be patient and do your homework… First the eye must be kept moist and in my experience as a veterinarian, I have found that as opposed the tiny tubes of pricey eye ointments I used to prescribe, Eye Restore is natural, wonderful and very cost effective! Two drops applied into the eye(s) twice daily works like a charm. Next ask your vet to show you how to gently massage the gland back into place.
The biggest mistake to avoid is rushing to have the gland removed. This is a money maker for vets, with average fees ranging from $750.00 to $1000.00 dollars or more, for surgically removing the gland, an outdated procedure that takes less than 10 minutes.
Many vets simply remove the Gland of the Nictitans, which often results in a lack of tear production and “Dry Eye”, a chronic eye condition caused by a lack of tear production. Dogs with “Dry Eye” endure a life time of red, dry, irritated eyes and are prone to developing painful ulcers of the cornea of the eye, as a result. Today newer procedures involve trying to save this important tear gland by tacking or suturing it in place. This is a much better, and much trickier alternative, requiring surgical expertise! Unfortunately Dry Eye can still result anytime from 6 months to 3 years later and up to 1/3 of the cases may require more than one operation.
I recommend getting a 2nd opinion from a Board Certified Veterinary Ophthalmologist, an eye specialist before letting any practitioner attempt any surgery on your dogs eyes!! For those dogs affected with this condition in both eyes; NEVER remove both glands! Here’s an example of how to avoid a mistake with your dog’s Cherry Eye:
Dr. Doctor Carol,
BAD News, I’m afraid. . . I had hoped to avoid surgery for our 8 month-old English Mastiff pup; HOWEVER, no vet in Santa Barbara seems to know what I am talking about when I ask them if they know how to “massage the eye back into place” as you suggested. PHOOEY!
So, now our guy is going to HAVE to get surgery, I am afraid, Dr. Carol, because the Cherry is more prominent than ever! He’s set for February 28th! Any ideas?
Well, she finally reconsidered and is taking her Mastiff to see an eye specialist, which makes me feel a lot better. In addition there is a condition called Inversion or Eversion of the Cartilage that occurs spontaneously in young large breed dogs like Mastiffs which is caused by a bend in the stem of the cartilage of the 3rd eyelid.
This condition looks just like cherry eye and may even complicate the condition however it is usually not a problem and excision of the abnormal piece of the cartilage should only be considered in cases where owners want a more cosmetic appearance and have been fully advised of the potential post operative risks.
What an AMAZING PERSON and COMMITTED DOCTOR you are, Dr. Carol!!! Wow, do I wish that we had the $$’s to just pick-up our sweet baby and bring him to your arms and loving, knowledgeable care!
Enough of that day dreaming. . . I shall call you tomorrow and hope to reach you at some time when you have a hole in your presumably busy day. Thanks a million for everything!
Sharon and Baby General Chesty
Santa Barbara, California