Eye Care - Cherry Eye & Dry Eye
Throughout their lives some dogs can be prone to particular eye conditions. Cherry eye is defined as prolapse of the gland of the third eyelid. The medical term is glandular hypertrophy. Dry eye describes changes that occur in the eye resulting from a lack of tears. Vets call this "KCS", which stands for keratoconjunctivitis sicca.


  • In addition to the upper and lower eyelids, dogs (and cats) have a third eyelid that originates at the inside corner of the eye (closest to the nose). This third eyelid acts like a windshield wiper and helps protect the eye. In addition, it contains a gland that produces 30 percent of the tear film which keeps the clear front part of the eye, the cornea, well lubricated. Cherry eye results when this gland goes wrong
  • In dogs with cherry eye the gland is red and fleshy. It looks like a small cherry that suddenly pops up and protrudes from the corner of the eye. The other eye may or may not also be affected at a later date. Dogs with cherry eye are usually under a year old. In addition to the redness and swelling, a clear or mucus-like discharge may also occur.
  • The exact cause of cherry eye is somewhat controversial. Some experts say it is a genetic condition because cocker spaniels, beagles, bulldogs and Pekingese seem to be predisposed. But other breeds including bloodhounds, great Danes and basset hounds are also commonly affected. Whether or not trauma is also a cause is still a matter of debate between veterinary ophthalmologists.

  • Surgical treatment is usually done to replace the gland back inside the third eyelid. That way the gland continues to produce "tears" and the risk of dry eye is therefore prevented. The prognosis for such cases is excellent.

  • Other treatments include surgical removal of the gland which often leads to a lack of tear film production and can result in dry eye. Ignoring the cherry eye is another option. Sometimes it goes away on its own in two to three weeks, at other times it leads to further eye disease. You should discuss treatment options, which will vary depending on the breed, with your vet.

  • Tears are essential to keep the cornea healthy, supplying it with oxygen and food. If there is a lack of tear film production, destructive changes occur quickly, leading to dry eye. This causes the cornea to become pigmented, scarred, and ulcerated. Partial vision loss (even blindness) can result. The eyes of dogs with KCS sting all the time, just like yours do on a windy day. The condition is diagnosed by a test that measures the number of tears the eye produces in one minute.

  • There are several situations that can cause dry eye. These include hypothyroidism (see p. 69); tear gland infections caused by the canine distemper virus (see p. 22), or immune system diseases (such as cancer).
  • The ususal treatments are topical antibiotics and anti-inflammatory (cortisone) drugs which treat secondary bacterial infections of the eye and reduce corneal inflammation. Artificial tear ointment helps lubricate the dry cornea. A range of different drugs may be prescribed to relieve symptoms and cause or stimulate an increase in actual tear production
  • If medication doesn't work, your vet may consider a surgical procedure called a parotid duct transposition (PDT).

  • The prognosis for dry eye is good with consistent therapy. If a dog isn't treated, it may suffer recurrent corneal ulcers, bacterial infections, and even become blind.
It is possible that Zincum metallicum 30c, given twice daily, may assist in cases of dry eye, especially when the treatment is used in conjunction with artificial tear fluid.

Extrait from - A Marshall Factfile
Dr. Carol Osborne
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