Cherry eye is a way of describing a condition in cat’s where the third eyelid pops out and it is bright pink or red. What is really happening is the third eyelid, which is located inside the lower eyelid, has prolapsed, or turned inside out. Under normal conditions, you cannot see the third eyelid because it is tucked under the bottom of the eyelid and helps in the production of tears.
Once a cherry eye is present, you need to get your cat to the veterinarian as soon as possible. The longer the tissue is exposed, the more likely it is to cause an infection in the cat’s eye because your cat will want to scratch the eye, running the risk of creating an ulcer on the eyeball.
Signs & Symptoms of Cherry Eye in Cats
A small protrusion of tissue will be popped out of the bottom portion of the eyelid. This little bundle of tissue is usually bright pink or red, hence “Cherry Eye”.
Causes of Cherry Eye in Cats
The exact cause of cherry eye is not known, but what is known is that the connective tissue that holds the third eyelid in place becomes weakened enough to allow it to prolapse. Cats can acquire this condition at any age and it affects males and females equally.
Diagnosis of Cherry Eye in Cats
Diagnosis begins with a complete history and a physical exam of the cat. The presence of a cherry eye will be obvious. Your veterinarian will most likely do the following to look for any secondary problems the cherry eye has caused:
- Flush the eye with a saline solution and then stain the eye with a green liquid
- Look at the cornea with an ultra violet light to reveal any ulcers present due to scratching or itching the eye with a paw
Treatment for Cherry Eye in Cats
Treatment involves the surgical repairing of the third eyelid to its correct position in the cat’s eye. It is important to have the surgical correction done as quickly as possible to minimize any further damage to your cat’s eye. If treatment is neglected or prolonged, the risk of causing further damage is high. Remember, the third eyelid is responsible for at least fifty percent of the tear production, so if neglected your cat will develop dry eye, which can lead to vision loss.
Prevention of Cherry Eye in Cats
There is no prevention for cherry eye.