Dog Health Questions? Ask a Dog Vet for Answers ASAP
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I'm sorry, I'm not at home and don't have a camera. This is the second time it's happened and both times it went away, but I was wondering if I could use something to wash it out with visine?
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Prolapse of the Tear Gland of the Third Eyelid
The normal canine eye receives its tear film from two lacrimal (tear-producing) glands. One gland is located above the eye, and the other is found within the animal's third eyelid. The gland of the third eyelid contributes a significant portion of secretion to the tear film.
In the smaller breeds -- especially Boston terriers, Cocker spaniels, bulldogs and beagles -- the gland of the third eyelid is not strongly held in place. The gland prolapses (slips out) to where the owner notices it as a reddened mass. Out of its normal position, the gland does not circulate blood properly and may swell.
Treatment - Removal of the Gland
Historically, the prolapsed gland was treated like a small tumor and was simply removed. That was before the full significance of the gland was realized.
If the third eyelid's tear gland is removed, it cannot be put back in place. If the other tear gland (the one above the eye) cannot supply adequate tears, which is not an uncommon phenomenon in older small breed dogs, then the eye becomes dry and uncomfortable. A thick yellow discharge results and the eye develops a blinding pigment covering for protection. This condition is called simply dry eye, or more scientifically keratoconjunctivitis sicca, and daily medical treatment is required to keep the eye both comfortable and visual. Not only is dry eye uncomfortable for the pet, its treatment is often frustrating and time-consuming and there is expense involved. We would like the dog to maintain the greatest amount of tear producing tissue possible, thus removing the gland for cosmetic reasons is not an acceptable treatment method.
Treatment - Replacing the Gland
The only acceptable treatment of cherry eye is replacement of the gland in its proper location. There are two techniques for doing this. The traditional tucking method is probably most commonly performed. Here, a single stitch is permanently placed that draws the gland back where it belongs. Complications are uncommon but be aware of the following possibilities:
In a newer surgical technique, a wedge of tissue is removed from directly over the actual gland. This technique is more challenging as it is not easy to determine how much tissue to remove. Tiny stitches that will eventually dissolve are used to close the gap so that the tightening of the incision margins pushes the gland back in place. Complications may include:
Sometimes both surgical techniques are used in the same eye to achieve a good replacement. Harmful complications from cherry eye surgery are unusual but recurrence of the cherry eye is common. If a cherry eye recurs, it is important to let your veterinarian know so that a second surgery either with your normal veterinarian or with an ophthalmology specialist can be planned. An owner should expect some postoperative swelling after cherry eye repair but this should resolve and the eye should be comfortable and normal in appearance after about a week. If the eye appears suddenly painful or unusual in appearance, it is important that it be rechecked as soon as possible.
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