|One of the most common eye problems seen in especially young dogs is the appearance of a swollen and protruding third eyelid. While this can occur in any breed, we do see it more commonly in certain breeds, especially Cocker Spaniels and Shar-Peis. The swollen third eyelid actually looks like a small tumor as it is red and often engorged with blood and can cover much of the eye (from its origin at the inner corner of the eye near the nose). While it most typically occurs in one eye, some dogs can eventually have both sides affected.|
Because of its swollen and red appearance, this condition is often commonly referred to as a “cherry eye.” While it is alarming in appearance, most dogs are not bothered at all by the swelling. Since this third eye lid is a major source of tears for dogs, chronic protrusion can lead to a reduced tear production in the eye and the eventual development of a condition known as dry eye. In the past, many veterinarians often removed this third eye lid, but since a significant number of dogs developed dry eye after surgery, the standard of treatment for this condition is to now surgically replace the swollen third eyelid back in place, rather than removing it.
For those clients who can’t afford the surgery or need to wait, then I simply have clients use artificial tears several times a day keep the eyes moist, and use topical antibiotics as needed for any secondary infections. If needed, prescription drugs like Optimmune or Cyclosporine are often prescribed should a pet develop the complication known as dry eye, which often appears as a thick mucous covered eye that is red and inflamed. The important point I want to make to clients is that this condition is not health threatening and can certainly be managed in the above manners, depending upon the pet and the given client’s financial constraints.