Nictitans Gland Prolapse

(Cherry Eye)

Nictitans Gland Prolapse (Cherry Eye)

A nictitans gland prolapse or “cherry eye” occurs when the gland of the third eyelid “falls out of place.” The cause of this condition is unclear but genetic factors such as weak attachments and inflammation in the gland play a role. This gland is an important source of tear production accounting for up to 60% of the aqueous part of the tear film. Dogs who have had the gland removed have a significantly higher risk of developing dry eye, which can cause loss of vision and chronic eye pain.

Therefore, surgical replacement of the gland is typically recommended.

Unfortunately, recurrence of nictitans gland prolapse occurs in approximately 1% of patients, usually within several weeks following surgical replacement. These patients will require a second surgery. Rarely, complete repositioning of the gland is impossible. This condition is common in many breeds including bulldogs, boston terriers, and cocker spaniels.