Prolapsed gland of the third eyelid, otherwise known as ‘cherry eye,’ is a disorder located in the corner of each of the eyes. The third eyelid normally cannot be seen; however, with cherry eye, the third eyelid protrudes and shifts out of its usual position, appearing like a cherry. Both cats and dogs can be affected by this condition. Although it occurs less in cats, flat-faced breeds like Persians, Burmese, and Himalayans are predisposed to this eye problem.
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Signs and Symptoms
Cherry eye in cats is usually a condition that is easy to spot. An oval mass that is reddish/pink or cherry-like protrudes from the inner corner of the cat’s eye. It can occur in both of the cat’s eyes or just in one. It may also look watery/teary, and in some cases may have discharge similar to pus or mucus.
This condition is commonly linked to a congenital weakness of the gland’s attachment in the eyes; however, here are other possible reasons how and why cats acquire cherry eye:
- A defect in the retinaculum
- Weak ligament attachment
- Idiopathic (no known reason)
There is still no found proof that cherry eye in cats is hereditary.
Despite being very easy to diagnose, the vet may want to ensure that the eye condition is a cherry eye and not another potential cause, such as cancer or any other eye injury. Other diagnosis for cherry eye in cats may include and ophthalmic examination along with physical examination and a review of your cat’s medical history. In some rare instances, your veterinarian may need to use diagnostics like MRI or ocular ultrasonography for a more accurate diagnosis.
There are two forms of treatments for cherry eye in cats. These are:
- Non-Surgical Treatment Options This eye condition can be treated with medications such a topical or an oral one, which will help in reducing inflammation, relieve discomfort, and resolve or prevent secondary infections. Other veterinarians may try manual manipulation of the gland, which is painless and can take only a few minutes. However, both of these non-surgical treatment options do not resolve the cherry eye in cats permanently.
- Surgical Options
This treatment option may correct the positioning of the cat’s eye glands. However, keep in mind that surgically correcting one eye does not prevent or reduce the risk of development of the cherry eye in the other eye.
- Repositioning the Gland Currently, most vets recommend repositioning of the gland through surgery for cherry eye in cats. There are various techniques for repositioning, which may result in a decreased chance of the reoccurrence of the cherry eye as well as a cosmetic difference.
- Removal of the Gland Removing the cat’s prolapsed tear gland may be an easy fix; however, since the third-eye gland is accountable for producing a huge part of the tear fluid, having it removed may increase the cat’s susceptibility to developing the risk of dry eye syndrome. This means a lifelong, everyday treatment with topical eye drops as well as an anti-inflammatory medication since the lubrication of the eyes have been compromised.
- Pocket Technique This is a common procedure to correct the cherry eye in which a new pocket will be made that will be close to the gland’s presurgical position since the gland cannot be placed back to its original spot. The gland will be positioned in the pocket, and sutures will be used to hold the gland in place and close the pockets securely.
- Orbital Rim Tacking Some vets may prefer and/or suggest having the tear gland tacked onto the orbital rim of the cat’s eye.
Since the cause of this prolapsed gland problem is almost always undetermined, preventative measures for this condition is difficult to identify. The best possible way to help reduce risks of eye issues in your cat is to check its eyes every day for any signs of irritation. Most importantly, schedule a vet appointment if you suspect a problem in your cat’s eyes, whether it looks red, watery, inflamed, or irritated.
Know more about preventive measures to different cat health concerns here!