Cherry eye

What does a « cherry eye » look like?

A "cherry eye" has this typical appearance:

• A red round ball located in the inner corner of the animal's eye.

• The entire eye may also be red and inflamed.

• The animal can produce more tears and blink more often.

What causes this condition?

The eyes of animals have three eyelids: one below, one above and one in the inner corner of the eye. This third eyelid provides more protection to the eye compared to humans who have only two eyelids.

A gland, the nictitating gland, is hidden under the third eyelid and invisible from the outside. However, it sometimes happens that the fasteners of the gland become loose and this causes it to release from the back of the eyelid. At this time, the gland can swell and become irritated. This is called a prolapsed nictitating gland or "cherry eye" because of its cherry-like appearance.

Who is affected by it?

Young dogs under 2 years old and the following breeds are most often affected:

Boston terriers

Cocker Spaniels



This condition can either affect one or both eyes.

It is rare in cats.

How is a « cherry eye » treated?

It is necessary to surgically replace the gland in its normal anatomical position and to attach it to avoid a reoccurrence of the prolapse. In the past, the gland was removed, but it caused a decrease in the production of tears necessary to lubricate the eye. The dog would then develop keratoconjunctivitis sicca or « dry eye syndrome ».

After surgery, it may be necessary to apply medication to the eye to reduce swelling. In addition, the animal should be prevented from rubbing the eye by wearing an Elizabethan collar or a KONGÒ CloudTM collar.


In short, a "cherry eye" is a common condition in young dogs of certain breeds. Its typical appearance makes it usually easy to diagnose. The surgical treatment is simple too, but the animal must be placed under general anesthesia.

Do you think your pet has a "cherry eye"? Make an appointment without delay in one of our establishments before its condition deteriorates.