The most common third eyelid abnormality, called a prolapsed third eyelid gland, or sometimes referred to as a "cherry eye" is more common that most realize. A prolapsed third eyelid gland typically presents as a small smooth red mass at the inner corner of the eye and can be diagnosed during a physical examination in most cases. In some instances, the gland can correct itself, making a diagnosis difficult. Therefore, taking a photograph of the eye when the prolapsed gland is noted can be helpful. This abnormality is more common in younger dogs and is over-represented in some breeds, including American Cocker Spaniels and English Bulldogs.
Our team assesses each pet on a case-by-case basis, but often the only remedy is to surgically repair the gland via a procedure called "pocket imbrication" where a pocket is created in the third eyelid and the prolapsed gland is then tucked into this pocket, keeping the gland in place. If the prolapsed gland is not corrected it can lead to dry eye which can predispose the eye to chronic irritation, discharge, and corneal ulceration.