October 23, 2012
Cherry eye, also called Haws, is a condition where the tear producing gland of the third eyelid becomes bulged out of position. The third eyelid of the dog is normally tucked behind the lower inside eyelid. It comes up if the eye is pressed on, or if pressure forces it out onto the eye surface. Cherry eye may occur in one or both eyes.
Another closely aligned condition results from the cartilage inside the lid being curled instead of flat, which also produces an unsightly red swelling on the inside margin of the eye. This condition is seen in Weimaraners and Great Danes.
There are certain breeds which have higher incidence of this condition. The Cocker Spaniel is one of these. Others include Shih Tzu, Poodle, Bulldog and Lhasa Apso. This problem usually develops in a dog early in their adult life, but in reality, it can pop up anytime.
It looks painful, but does not appear to cause discomfort in all dogs. Some dogs will rub the eye, and may cause it to bleed. This may also happen if the tissue starts to dry out, as drying will lead to irritation.
Fixing it requires surgical replacement of the gland back in a more normal position. This repair is important since it helps the dog to maintain normal tear production. A pocket is made in the surrounding tissue, and the gland tucked back in with sutures to close the pocket.
It appears that the breed eyelid structure plays a role in the preponderance of cases in certain breeds, but the inheritance of it as a trait is unknown at this time.