The Norman Transcript

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November 20, 2013

How to treat dog with ‘cherry’ eye

NORMAN — Dear Dr. Fox: My 4-year-old Havanese has cherry eye. It seems relatively small compared to some of the images I have seen on the computer. She’s had it on and off over the last year, but the gland always moved back in place. This time, it has not.

I took her to the vet. He and his partner have two opposing opinions on the treatment. One vet is in favor of removing the gland and said he has removed many with no complications of dry eye. I understand that this complication requires artificial tears daily for the rest of her life.

The other vet in the practice is in favor of sending her to a specialist to have the gland moved back into place and stitched so it stays where it should. Again, complications could arise.

The third option is to leave it alone and do nothing. Right now, it does not seem to bother her, as I don’t see her trying to rub it.

I hate to put her through unnecessary surgery that could produce complications, but I also don’t know if doing nothing will eventually lead to any complications.

Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

— L.S., Brielle, N.J.

Dear L.S.: Certain breeds — such as the cocker spaniel, basset hound, English bulldog, poodle and Lhasa apso — are prone to this condition, which is a prolapse of the gland of the third eyelid. It sticks out like a small pink cherry.

I would not remove the gland surgically. The resultant chronic dry eye condition could lead to corneal ulceration and blindness.

Surgical restoration of the normal gland position is called for after a week of topical treatment with ophthalmic antibiotic and steroid ointment to help decrease inflammation and improve surgical success.

The gland in the other eye may be prone to prolapse in the future, so it should be secured to prevent this at the same time.

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