The condition known as "cherry eye" is evidenced by the protrusion of the lachrymal gland. This gland is associated with the third eyelid membrane in the corner of the eye. The gland, which normally resides under the lower eyelid at the inside corner of the eye will sometimes "pop" out. This looks worse than it is and does not require emergency treatment.
Aside from its somewhat ghastly appearance, the prolapsed tear gland can actually rub against the surface of the eye (cornea), and cause irritation, and sometimes ulceration of the cornea. Excessive drainage from the affected eye is sometimes seen. Affected eyes in which the gland is not rubbing the cornea do not require medical or surgical attention. The owner in such cases may request correction of the condition solely based upon appearance.
There are several methods of dealing with cherry eye problems. Treatment is considered when irritation of the cornea is experienced.
Topically applied ointments and eye drops may sufficiently control the irritation. If irritation occurs, and topical medication is required on a continual basis, surgery may be considered.
Tacking the Gland
The current recommended treatment involves surgically returning the gland to its proper position. The gland is sutured, stitched or "tacked" back into place. The stitch then acts as the ligament to reattach the gland into position. This surgery is usually considered the only acceptable treatment of cherry eye, because the gland remains intact where it can resume tear production.
Typically dogs do well after this surgery, but in 5 to 20 percent of these cases the gland may become prolapsed again. In addition, is is not uncommon for cherry eye to occur in the opposite eye as well.
Removal of the Gland
In the past cherry eye was treated with surgical excision of the lachrymal gland. Since this gland is responsible for the tear production in the eyeball, removal often results in diminished tear production. This can lead to dry eye. Most feel this procedure should no longer be considered an option.
Allowing the gland to remain popped out, with or without the need for medication for most would be preferred over complete removal of this tear gland. If the gland is removed and the Bulldog develops dry eye, long term medication is then required to keep the eyeball moist.
Note: This document is provided for information purposes only. Lord Goliath's Bulldog Domain does not guarantee the veracity of this information. Under no circumstances should this information replace the advice of your verterinarian.