Cherry eye

What is cherry eye?

Cherry eye is prolapse of the nictitating gland in dogs (very rare in cats) of the third eyelid. It generally affects dogs under 2 years of age. It is most common in:

  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • English Bulldogs
  • Lhasa Apsos
  • Shih Tzus
  • West Highland White Terriers
  • Pugs
  • Bloodhounds
  • American Cocker Spaniels
  • Boston Terriers.

The nictitating gland is responsible for producing part of the tear film that lubricates the eye.

If left untreated and irritate the eye and can lead to complications such as conjunctivitis, corneal ulceration and dry-eye (KCS).


In puppies, cherry eyes can be monitored and gently massaged or replaced -this may result in resolution as the puppy grows.

If the cherry eye continues to be present, surgical correction is required.

Surgery of cherry eyes involves replacing the gland within the third eyelid and is a relatively simple procedure.

Aftercare of cherry eye surgery involved keeping the eye moist and preventing secondary infection with ointment/drops.

Recurrence after surgery is possible but not common.