Prevention of Cherry Eye in Dogs
The precise cause of cherry eye is unknown. However, because it appears more often in certain breeds, it is
thought to have a genetic component involving weak connective tissue around the third eyelid. Inflammation
and hypertrophy seem to play a role as well.

Special Notes
Cherry eye is a condition that usually occurs quite suddenly. In the typical case, the dog will look normal one
minute, and then without warning a large mass of angry red tissue will protrude from the lower inside corner
of one or both eyes. Some dogs are born with visible third eyelids along the lower portion of their eyes.
These are commonly referred to as “haws”. The existence of haws is not the same thing as cherry eye and is
almost always only of cosmetic rather than medical concern. Dogs with partially visible nictitating membranes
(haws) tend to appear tired, haggard or sad, which is considered unattractive and undesirable – especially in
the show ring. While cherry eye is neither life-threatening nor a true medical emergency, it can cause
affected dogs to suffer irritation, inflammation, eye redness (conjunctivitis) and other discomfort. As a result,
dogs with cherry eye should visit the veterinarian and be treated promptly to relieve discomfort and prevent
permanent ocular damage.
Causes of “Cherry Eye” in Dogs
The precise causes of cherry eye are not well understood.
Anatomically, each eye of domestic dogs contains a
nictitating membrane - commonly referred to as a “third
eyelid” – which hides beneath the lower eyelid and
normally is not visible to owners or to others. Tear glands
are located around the cartilage connections of the
nictitating membranes, providing a major source of tear
film and eye lubrication. However, if the fibrous tissues that
hold the third eyelids to the globes of the eyes become
weakened, the tear glands can bulge out (“prolapse” or
“evert”) over or around the third eyelid, appearing as
nasty-looking bright red masses. This can happen in one
or both eyes of an affected dog. Because cherry eye
appears much more frequently in certain breeds, the
current consensus is that there is a strong genetic
component to the disorder that involves weak fibrous
tissue connections associated with the third eyelid.
Inflammation (a localized protective response to injury or
damage to tissues), as well as tissue hypertrophy (an
increase in the size of the third eyelid produced solely by
enlargement of existing cells, rather than by new cellular
growth) may also play a role in the development of cherry
This is what a cherry eye in a
dog looks like
English Bulldog Breeder in Ontario