Everything You Need To Know About Boston Terrier Cherry Eye Treatment

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Just one look from your Boston Terrier with its sweet and expressive eyes will surely melt your heart. Suddenly, you noticed that there’s a red bump that looks like a cherry in its eye. It must be a cherry eye.

Luckily, a Boston Terrier cherry eye treatment is available. This article will talk about what a cherry eye is, its signs, causes, and possible treatments.

Everything You Need To Know About Boston Terrier Cherry Eye Treatment

Unlike humans, dogs have three eyelids. The third eyelid is called the nictitating membrane. It is found inside the lower eyelid of your dog.

Graphic image of a Boston Terrier with surgery tools with a text explaining how to treat Boston Terrier cherry eyes

Its purpose is to provide additional moisture and protection to your pup’s eyes. The third eyelid’s tear gland produces up to 40% of tear film in your dog’s eye to keep it wet.

In a normal Boston Terrier’s eye, you can see the third eyelid when they sleep with eyes a little open, or they just woke up from a nap. Cherry eye happens when the third eyelid gland in one or both eyes of your dog starts to protrude, move out of its place, get red, and swell. 

When cherry eye happens, the tear ducts will not function normally. The longer it takes to get fixed, the more damage will be done. Knowing the early signs of a cherry eye will prevent further complications and damage to the tear gland and your Boston Terrier’s eyes.

The Boston Terrier cherry eye treatment options available vary depending on the severity of the protrusion.

Signs of Cherry Eyes in Boston Terriers

Though the third eyelid is usually hidden, the symptoms of a cherry eye can easily be seen. Here are some signs that your Boston Terrier is developing a cherry eye.

Person petting a dog
  • Pinkish to reddish swelling on the edge of the eye
  • Excessive tear production in one or both eyes
  • Looking at something with partially closed eyes
  • Blinking or twitching too much
  • Inflamed tissue of the eyelids
  • Inflamed cornea causing Dry Eye

At first, your dog will not mind any of these symptoms and will not feel any pain. However, once the swelling gets bigger and bigger, your Boston Terrier may start scratching its eyes using its paws. It can lead to further damage or infection.

Causes of Cherry Eye

The tear gland is held in place by elastic tissue fibers. The cause of gland protrusion in some breeds of dogs is weak fibers. Genetics is the main reason why the gland is not tightly held in its place. 

When the third eyelid sags or droops out of its place, the blood will not circulate properly. It results in swelling and abnormal production of tears. The suspected causes of a cherry eye in dogs aside from the genes are:

  • Infection caused by bacteria or fungi
  • Parasite
  • Skin diseases, such as dermatitis
  • Sun damage
  • Cancer
  • Low immune system
Closeup of a Boston Terrier's eyes

The cherry eye can start as early as six months up to two years of age. Unfortunately, cherry eye cannot be prevented since it is mainly caused by genes. However, proper treatment can be administered if diagnosed early.

Cherry Eye Treatment Options For Boston Terriers

Cherry eye can be treated differently depending on the signs. For starters, your Boston Terrier may be given anti-inflammatory eye drops to reduce the swelling of the gland.

If the swelling and protrusion continue, and you notice that it is now accompanied by a discharge, an antibiotic eye medication may be given by your vet.

If the discomfort continues and the swelling seems to be blocking your Boston Terrier’s sight, several types of surgery may be offered to you by the vet.

The best treatment is to put the gland back in its place. However, if it didn’t work out successfully, removal of the tear gland may be an option.

Removal of the tear gland is not the best option that I have here, since it produces a big fraction of moisture in Boston’s eyes. If this is inevitable, dry eye may also be experienced by my dogs. Here are the surgeries available for Boston Terriers with a cherry eye:

Traditional Tucking Method

It is also called tucking or tacking. This is the most common method of replacing the tear gland back to its place. Part of the procedure is placing a single stitch to put the gland back in its position. You should be aware of the complications though it is uncommon in this method.

  • The most common complication is when the stitch is not anchored well enough to hold the gland permanently. A second or third tuck may be done as necessary.
  • If the stitch unties, the eye can be irritated due to the scratching of the sutures. It is painful for the dog. The suture thread may be visible. If the suture threads are removed, the problem will be gone as well. 
  • If the cherry eye is accompanied by other diseases of the eyelid, an expert like a veterinary ophthalmologist may be called.

Imbrication or Pocketing Method

This method is newer than the first one. In this treatment, a portion of the tissue is removed from the gland. It is more challenging than the tucking method because it’s harder to determine how much tissue needs to be removed. The vet will do tiny stitches with dissolvable threads to close the gaps. 

Possible complications are:

  • Swelling of the stitches
  • Recurrence of the cherry eye if the gaps are not closed properly
  • Loose stitches can cause discomfort and injury in the eye

Third Eyelid Gland Removal

In the past, this method was one of the most popular treatments for cherry eyes. The prolapsed gland is removed just like a tumor. Until they discovered the importance of this gland in the eye. Nowadays, this is not the preferred treatment for cherry eyes. 

The removal of the third eyelid gland can result in keratoconjunctivitis sicca or most commonly known as dry eye. When the third eyelid gland is removed, there will be less production of tears. The common signs of dry eye are squinting, yellow and thick discharge or eyes that are held shut.

What Can You Expect After the Cherry Eye Surgery?

After a cherry eye surgery, it is common for a dog to have postoperative swelling. This may last for about a week. If your dog shows signs of great discomfort and pain, check the eye for any bleeding or discharge. 

Boston Terrier in need of treatment for his Cherry Eye

After the surgery, it is unlikely for the cherry eye to come back. For faster recovery and to avoid complications, follow the postoperative instructions given by your vet. Allow him to wear an E-collar for at least 10 to 14 days. Check the incision often.

In case the incision bleeds or opens up, consult your vet for proper instructions on what to do.

Relevant Timeline for Cherry Eye Recovery

TimelineThings to Note Of
1 to 2 weeks Inflammation happens and then the eye starts to regain its normal look.
Wear an Elizabethan collar
7 to 10 days Apply ointment to facilitate healing
5 to 10 days Oral antibiotics to prevent infection and improve healing
2 weeks Don’t bath or let your dog swim
Veterinary check for recovery progress

Does Pet Insurance Cover Cherry Eye Surgery in Boston Terriers?

Some pet insurance companies will cover cherry eye surgery as long as it’s not pre-existing. If your Boston Terrier was diagnosed or showed signs of the disease, it may not be covered by pet insurance. Other pet insurance companies will not cover it since it is hereditary.

It will depend on their limits and policies.

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Can Boston Terriers Live With Cherry Eyes?

Yes. Boston Terriers with cherry eyes can live a normal life. Though it may be uncomfortable, it is not that painful for them. It will not cause their life to shorten. Cherry eye is not life-threatening. However, it can put your Boston Terrier under great stress

Therefore, it is important to diagnose and treat the condition as early as possible. Consult with your vet for the proper diagnosis and possible treatment.

What Happens if Cherry Eye is Left Untreated?

Though cherry eyes cannot cause too much pain in the beginning, they may cause greater trouble if left untreated. A prolapse gland cannot go back to its proper place by itself. Here are the things that can happen if you do not treat cherry eye properly:

  • It can cause inflammation and irritation on the affected eye.
  • The longer the gland is out of its place, the higher the chance that it will no longer be in its perfect condition. There will be a chance that the production of tears will lessen even if it’s back to its position.
  • Long-term complications in the eye.
  • Your Boston Terrier will not be able to fully close their eyes which may lead to loss of moisture or even infection.
  • It may cause pigmentation in the eye which may eventually lead to blindness.

Related Questions

Can Cherry Eye in Dogs Correct Itself?

Cherry eye in dogs can’t correct itself. This is because the gland has prolapsed already and it would require surgery to fix it.

Can I Push My Dog’s Cherry Eye Back In?

You can push and pop your dog’s cherry eye back in when done properly. Pet clinics usually teach you how to do this to prepare the dog for surgery.

Is Cherry Eye Painful in Dogs?

Cherry eye is generally not painful in dogs. Although, there might be times when dogs will rub it as if it’s itchy.

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Final Thoughts

Boston Terriers are prone to cherry eye. The most common cause of cherry eyes is their genes. They are mainly affected due to the weak fiber that holds the tear gland in the third eyelid.

There are several surgeries that can be done to treat cherry eyes. If left untreated, it may lead to more serious issues.