What is Cherry Eye?
Cherry eye is a red lump or irritation in the inner corner of the eye and occurs in French bulldogs due to prolapse of the third eyelid. Prolapse simply means the eyelid is no longer in the correct place, sometimes protruding from the eye. The third eyelid is located inside the lower eyelid. It moves sideways underneath the other lids distributing fluid across the eyeball to protect the bulldog’s and keep it moist.
Cherry eye can effect one eye or both. It can occur at any age but is more common in French bulldogs less than 2 years of age.
Causes of Cherry Eye in French Bulldogs
- Congenial Disorder: Cherry eye is a congenital disorder often found in French Bulldogs. This means the bulldog can be predisposed to the condition from birth and handed down from one generation to other. Some breeds have higher chances to get this condition such as French bulldogs.
- Nictating Membrane Displacement: Cherry eye occurs when the tear gland of the nictitating membrane (third eyelid) moves out of its position and can be visible from the outside of the eye. It is a red-colored membrane that rolls across the eye and it seems the dog is rolling his eyes towards the back of his head. When working normally the nictitating membrane fights off the infection produces tears, and keep debris outside of the eye.
- Fragile Connective Fibers: Tissue fibers hold the third eyelid gland in place at the lower rim of the eye. When these fibers become fragile due to genetics, the gland prolapses and come out of its place and resulting in a cherry eye appearance.
- Age : This condition is most common in young French bulldogs. The common age involved in this condition is 3 months to 2 years of age. If your dog’s age is more than 2 years, there are fewer chances of this condition developing.
Identifying Early Stage Cherry Eye in French Bulldog Puppies
Identifying cherry eye early in French bulldogs can result in a better prognosis when the issue is addressed early.
The most obvious sign of cherry eye is a large red sack outside of the eyeball but there are many symptoms which allow the condition to be identified and addressed before the issue gets this severe. The first warning signs can be pain or discomfort in the affected area, dry eyes, overproduction of tears, rubbing, scratching, and squinting of the eyes.
If you see a mild appearance of any of these symptoms, get the medical attention or visit any vet as soon as possible. Early visits to a veterinarian can result in a better prognosis.
Signs and Symptoms of Cherry Eye in French Bulldogs
Signs and symptoms of the cherry eye are the following:
- Excess fluids from the eye due to overproduction of tears.
- Impaired vision
- Swollen, red-colored mass protruding from the eye.
- Scratching and rubbing of eyes.
- Glancing of eyes.
- Abnormally dry eyes.
Treatment of Cherry Eye in French Bulldogs
Cherry eye in French bulldogs can be corrected. The methods involved are surgical, non-surgical, or a combination of both :
Cherry Eye Dog Home Treatment
Non-surgical methods involved to cure cherry eyes are the following:
- Anti-inflammatory eye drops
These drops lessen the swelling and inflammation linked to this infection. It also helps in relieving the pain and discomfort of your dog, experiencing cherry eyes.
- Massage technique
In this method, different types of massage are helpful in eliminating the protrusion of the gland. If this method is successful, the gland of the third eyelid goes back to its place.
It is an easier, less stressful, and cheaper method, an alternative to surgery. The massage technique requires guidance by a veterinarian.
- Topical application of antimicrobial ophthalmic Gel
Some owners of French bulldogs prefer the topical application of antimicrobial ophthalmic gel, to relieve the symptoms linked with the cherry eye condition. But surgical routes have a preference over all non-surgical methods of treatment.
Surgical Methods for Treating Cherry Eye
The surgical methods involved to cure cherry eye are following. Both the following methods are used to treat cherry eyes, depending on the conditions and doctor’s recommendations.
Partial Removal of Third Eyelid for French Bulldogs
This method was a popular treatment, but most veterinarians now do not recommend it because it is not a permanent method and reoccurrence can occur. In this method, the eyelids of affected eyes are removed to some extent to avoid further complications and discomfort related to cherry eye.
Tucking method for Cherry Eye
The most common surgical method used to treat cherry eye is the tucking method. In this technique, a permanent stitch is applied that pulls back the gland to its original position to avoid severe complications.
If the stitches fuse, the surface of the eyes can be scratched and cause pain. This condition can be combined with other eyelid issues, and it makes the process of eradicating the problem more difficult.
Imbrication Method for Treating Cherry Eye
The imbrication method It is the most advanced technique, and many veterinarians use this method to treat the cherry eye condition. In this method, a part of excess tissue is removed from the gland. This method is challenging in determining how much tissue should be removed.
Small stitches are used to close the gap and those stitches will dissolve after some time. In this method, complications can occur after treatment such as swelling and inflammation, failure of holding ability of stitches, and discomfort for the patient.
Removal of the Affected Gland to Prevent Cherry Eye
The oldest technique used to treat cherry eyes is a complete removal of the nictitating gland. This surgery is performed most commonly but thanks to new technology, the removal of the whole gland is not necessary.
When the whole gland is removed, tear production is not enough to keep the eyes moist. After this surgery, eye drops should be used daily, otherwise, this dryness can lead to blindness.
French Bulldog Cherry Eye Summary
French bulldogs are born naturally with three eyelids. Cherry eye is a common condition of this breed, usually at a younger age. If you see the early symptoms of cherry eye in your French Bulldog don’t wait for the issue to resolve it’s self. A few weeks after having treatment, the affected gland of the French bulldog will function as normal.
In 20% of cases, there is a deterioration of the third eyelid gland which additional surgery can be required to remove the affected irritated area. French bulldogs with prolapse in one eye, often have this condition in the second eye after some time.
If diagnosed at the early stages, it is a very treatable condition. After the surgical performance, the expected healing time is about 2 weeks.