Cherry Eye Repair Surgery

Small white dog with a cherry eye

Learning that your pet needs surgery can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you are unsure of what the procedure entails. At Anicira, we work with pet parents to ensure that you are well informed before your pet’s surgery. Our veterinary team provides compassionate care before, during, and after surgery to ensure that your pet is safe and comfortable.

What is cherry eye?

Your pet has a third eyelid, or nictitating membrane, which protects their eye from dust and keeps the eye moist. “Cherry eye” occurs when the gland of the third eyelid prolapses which means it pops up and flips over the third eyelid.

What causes cherry eye?

Some breeds are more susceptible to developing cherry eye. The third eyelid is held into place by fibrous attachments. In certain breeds, it is suspected that the fibrous attachments are weaker which makes it easier for the third eyelid gland to prolapse.

Some pets may develop cherry eye due to environmental allergies which cause the third eyelid gland to swell and then prolapse.

Is a cherry eye painful?

At first, cherry eye may not be painful to your pet. The longer the condition is left untreated, the more irritated your pet’s eye will become.

What happens if you leave cherry eye untreated?

Cherry eye may cause decreased lubrication to the eye leading to dry eye, pain, and discomfort. A large cherry eye may prevent your pet from being able to completely close their eye. This will lead to prolonged exposure of the cornea and further damage to the eye.

Pre-Surgical Instructions

Admission Time – Bring your pet to Anicira at 7 am.
Pre-surgical exam – Your pet must be in good health and show no signs of sickness such as coughing, sneezing, or diarrhea.
Medical records – Please bring proof of rabies vaccination if you have not already provided this. If your cat or dog has not been previously vaccinated or lacks proof of vaccination, we will administer a rabies vaccine on the day of surgery. If you have not already sent your medical records, please bring all relevant medical records.

Feeding Instructions
Adult Dogs over 1 year Withhold food for all adult dogs after midnight the evening before surgery. Please ensure water is available at all times.
Adult Cats under 1 year Adult cats can have food without restriction of amount up until 6am the morning of surgery. Please ensure water is available at all times.
Puppies and Kittens under 1 year Feed a small meal (¼ of their typical breakfast) to all puppies and kittens on the morning of surgery. Please ensure water is available at all times.

Cherry Eye Repair Surgery

Cherry eye repair surgery preserves and replaces the prolapsed third eyelid gland so that the third eyelid is once again functional.

Before surgery, our veterinary team will perform a thorough pre-surgical examination to ensure that your pet is a good candidate for anesthesia. It is strongly recommended that your pet receives pre-anesthetic blood work to ensure that no health concerns go undetected.

Your pet will be under general anesthesia. The surgical team will prepare the surgical site by shaving and then cleaning the area to remove bacteria and prevent potential infection.

Your veterinarian will then perform the cherry eye repair by creating a pocket to tuck the third eyelid gland back into place. There will be sutures holding this together. The sutures will dissolve over time, but while they are dissolving you may notice a slightly increased tear production.

Caring for Your Pet After Cherry Eye Repair Surgery

Anesthesia takes 24 to 48 hours to wear off.

  • Your pet will be groggy during this time period.
  • Keep your pet confined in a secure, quiet, and comfortable space. We recommend a crate or a small room.
  • Isolate them from other pets and children while recovering.

The third eyelid may appear reddened and swollen for a few days or even weeks. This is normal and can be expected.

  • Blood-tinged discharge is normal from the eye or nose for the first few days after surgery

Make sure your pet wears their Elizabethan Collar (E Collar / Cone)

  • Your pet’s surgical site will take 10 to 14 days to heal. During this period, they should wear an e collar at all times.
  • Allowing your pet to scratch their eye can lead to recurrence of cherry eye

Offer food & water after surgery

  • When your pet returns home, offer them food and water
  • Anesthesia may cause nausea so your pet may not be interested in food
  • If vomiting occurs, wait until the next day to give more food.
  • Resume normal feeding the day after surgery. Your pet’s appetite should be back to normal within 24 hours.
  • If your pet refuses to eat, you may try offering a bland diet such as white rice and boiled chicken breast while they regain a normal appetite.
  • Please do not feed your pet junk food, table scraps, or milk

Give all medications as directed

  • Your pet will be sent home with a topical antibiotic ointment. Please apply to the affected eye as directed by your veterinarian.
  • Your pet will be sent home with oral pain medication. Please follow the instructions on the label.
  • If possible, please give the pain medication with food. If your pet has no appetite please ensure that they still take the pain medication.
  • OTC pain relievers such as Tylenol and Advil are toxic to pets. Please do not give these to your pet.

Limit your pet’s activity and keep them clean, dry, and warm for 10 days after surgery.

  • Keep your pet away from all potential hazards (including stairs)
  • Pets should be kept indoors so they can stay clean, dry, and warm.
  • No running, jumping, playing, swimming, or other strenuous activity.
  • Do not bathe your pet or have it groomed during the recovery period.

Rare, but serious complications of cherry eye repair surgery

Complications from cherry eye repair are rare. If your pet experiences these issues after surgery, please contact Anicira.

  • Recurrent cherry eye – in approximately 20% of cases, recurrence of the cherry eye may occur
  • Infection of surgical site
  • Inflammation of the gland lasting more than a few weeks
  • Injury to the eye

Please contact Anicira, your primary care veterinarian, or an emergency clinic if any of the following occur:

  • Severe pain, depression or weakness
  • Vomiting or Diarrhea
  • Labored breathing
  • Decreased appetite for more than 24 hours
  • Lethargy lasting more than 24 hours