As pet parents, we all desire to provide our pets the care they need regardless of the cost. In an ideal world, money would be the least of our concerns when caring for our pets. However, finances play a vital role when it comes to your pet’s treatment in the real world.
Some health issues require surgery and intensive care, which can be quite expensive. Cherry eye is an issue that dogs experience which requires surgery. Animals that have a third eyelid, including dogs, can suffer from this issue. Generally, the cost of the surgery depends on the severity of the issue.
What Is Cherry Eye?
Cherry eye is the common name for a condition where the lacrimal glands of the third eyelid are either abnormally positioned or swollen. Lacrimal glands are present in the eye and produce tears to keep the eyes moist and prevent injuries. The canine eye has several lacrimal glands present in the eye tissue. The third eyelid is different from the upper and lower eyelid. It lies just beneath the lower eyelid and also contains lacrimal glands.
When the lacrimal gland of the third eyelid slips out of place, it causes cherry eye. This can cause a variety of symptoms such as inflammation, eye dryness, difficulty producing tears, and inability to close the eye completely. While there are no concrete answers about why this happens to dogs, genetics appear to play a role. The risk for developing cherry eye is something certain dog breeds are simply born with. The condition commonly occurs in one eye, but it is rare for it to develop in both eyes.
Cherry Eye Diagnosis
Pets suffering from Cherry eye will have a red or inflamed third eyelid. The inflammation appears near the corner of the eye, next to the tear duct. When the inflammation occurs, you will also notice a difference in the appearance of tears. Cherry eye can cause tears to become thick and mucid rather than the usual thin, clear appearance.
This occurs because the eye finds it difficult to produce tears. Pets suffering from cherry eye can also develop an infection in the affected eye if left untreated. Cherry eye is a painful and uncomfortable condition so prompt diagnosis and treatment are necessary for your pet.
Your veterinarian will perform a thorough eye examination to diagnose your pet. While it is rare, sometimes cherry eye can be confused with an eye tumor.
Treatment For Cherry Eye
Cherry eye is not a condition that resolves automatically. It requires treatment and surgery or it can cause permanent damage to your dog’s eye. If left untreated, the third eyelid gland has difficulty producing tears, leading to dryness and vision impairment.
Fortunately, most pets recover easily after cherry eye surgery with no complications. However, recovery may take some time and you will need to take your pet for follow-up appointments. Your veterinarian will need to check the sutures to ensure they are in place and have not become infected. Your dog will also need to wear an E-collar so she doesn’t scratch or pick at the surgical site.
Cost Of Cherry Eye Surgery
Similar to other surgeries, the cost of cherry eye surgery varies by the severity of the issue and type of surgery. The cost also varies from one veterinarian to the other depending on experience and expertise. According to Embrace Pet Insurance, you should expect to pay at least $300 to $800 depending on the type of surgery and the severity of the condition. If both eyes are affected, the cost will also rise. According to Vet Info, the cost of cherry eye surgery includes blood samples, eye tests, anesthesia, the procedure, and post-op care.
Generally speaking, there are two types of surgical procedures used for cherry eye treatment. The pocket technique is the most successful technique but it is also the most expensive. Another method is the removal of the third eyelid or the inflamed part of it. This procedure is less expensive than the pocket technique but can cause eye dryness since it involves the removal of the tear duct.
There is a variety of factors that can influence the cost of cherry eye surgery. Larger dogs will require higher doses of medication, which can increase the price of treatment. If both eyes are affected, the cost of treatment will naturally increase. Additionally, who performs the surgery also influences its cost. A general practice veterinarian will charge lesser than a veterinarian ophthalmologist due to specialized experience. If you want an eye specialist to perform the surgery, the cost can go up to $2000. Post-op care, including pain medication and antibiotics, is also an additional cost. You should consult your veterinarian for an accurate estimate of cherry eye surgery for your pet.
Caring For Your Pet After Cherry Eye Surgery
Similar to other surgeries, your pet will need to wear an E-collar following surgery while the affected eye recovers. If not, your dog might try to pick at the sutures and cause damage to the eye. It is also important to give your pet pain medication and antibiotics diligently for a speedy recovery. Pets suffering from a mild case of cherry eye usually recover in a matter of days after surgery, while more severe cases may take up to two weeks or a month.
If the process involved the removal of the third eyelid, your pet can suffer from Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) or dry eye following surgery. In this case, your pet may need eye drops for life. Since the process also involves the removal of the tear duct, the eye does not produce enough moisture following surgery.
This can lead to dryness and irritation. Use eye drops to reduce irritation and dryness. There are surgical methods to create new tear ducts. However, these surgeries are expensive and can cost up to $500.
Preventing Cherry Eye In Dogs
Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent cherry eye in dogs. You can prevent your dog from experiencing additional complications after surgery such as keratoconjunctivitis. However, there are no methods to prevent cherry eye and certain dog breeds are prone to developing the condition. These breeds include Cocker Spaniels, English Bulldogs, Lhasa Apso, Beagles, French Bulldogs, Chinese Shar-Peis, and Shih Tzus to name a few.
Some dogs may also have a genetic predisposition to the condition. Dogs that have large or prominent eyes can be at higher risk for cherry eye. Generally, cherry eye develops in younger dogs below two years of age. However, any breed can develop the condition at any age. Regardless of whenever your pet develops the condition and how severe it is, it will require surgery.
Most pets recover successfully after cherry eye surgery in one or multiple weeks. According to VCA Hospitals, approximately five to twenty percent of cases might experience the condition again and require additional surgery. If the condition occurs in one eye, it can also develop in the opposite eye. In most cases, the best choice of treatment is to surgically reposition the gland. However, if your dog has a severe or chronic case of cherry eye, surgical removal of the third eyelid gland might be your only option. Consult your veterinarian about the best option and the complications of the procedure.