Pet eye disease: Nictitans Gland Prolapse (Cherry Eye)

The tear (nictitans) gland is normally located on the inner corner of the eye, but can pop out if the ligaments holding the gland become loose or traumatised, presenting as a red mass.  Because the red mass resembles a cherry, the condition is commonly known as ‘cherry eye’.  

This condition can happen quite commonly particularly in young dogs, and certain dog breeds such as Bulldogs, Pekingeses, Cocker Spaniels, and Lhasa Apsos are prone to developing this.  

If left untreated, the exposed gland can become dry, inflamed, and become infected, leading to ocular discharge and obstructing vision.  

The old method was to treat the gland like a tumour and have it removed.  However, because the gland produces approximately 30% of tears to the eye, removal of the prolapsed gland is now not recommended, as this can lead to chronic dry eyes.  Chronic dry eyes can be a blinding condition that requires life-long eye drops to manage.  Unfortunately, many breeds prone to developing nictitans gland prolapse are also prone to developing dry eyes, therefore protecting the gland is important.

The best treatment is surgery to replace the gland to its normal position, with higher success rates reported the sooner surgery is done. 

For more information please call us at 2895 6811.