Harderian Gland Prolapse (Cherry Eye) and KCS (Dry Eye) in Shih Tzu

January 7, 2017 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Health and Care


Harderian Gland Prolapse (Cherry Eye)

In this condition the tear gland of the third eyelid slips up of its usual position due to lack of anchoring & forms “Cherry eye”. This is most common in young dogs, especially breeds such as shih tzu. It is not a genetic problem.


  • An evident round fleshy mass (like cherry).
  • Unusual excessive production of tears.
  • Discharge from the eye.

Cherry eye may develop in both eyes at different times in the dog’s life. the condition must be treated once it is evident, because longer the gland stays in an unusual position the more risk is there for the gland to get damaged & not function properly even after it is tacked back to its actual position & there is chance of the development of a dry eye which is a serious eye condition, so tacking the gland back to its actual position is very essential to keep it functional & the most suitable procedure to be performed is surgical, by a veterinary ophthalmologist or by experienced surgeon.

Techniques of tacking a prolapsed gland:

  • To the periorbital tissue.
  • To the periosteum of the orbital rim.
  • Imbrication (also called pouch or envelope/pocket technique).

The envelope/pocket technique is the most common, because it causes the least problems, with no change in tear production.

Unsuitable surgical techniques can consequence in various complications including cysts on the eye.

Postoperative treatment:

This includes antibiotic eye ointment thrice/day for two weeks.

 Keratoconjunctivitis sicca

(KCS) also called dry eye syndrome is a disorder in which the tear glands don’t produce sufficient tears to keep the eye moist. So a severe dryness & inflammation is occurred at the front transparent part of eye & the clear membrane (conjunctiva). It is a common condition in dogs & if not treated, vision disturbances & finally blindness can occur in more severe cases.


Third eyelid prominence

  • Unnecessary blinking.
  • Third eyelid prominence.
  • Swollen conjunctival blood vessels.
  • Swelling of the tissue lining the eyelids & surface of the eye.
  • Cornea thins and changes shape.
  • Discharge of mucus or pus.

Major causes:

  • Inflammation of the tear gland due to abnormal activity of the body’s immune system.
  • Congenital in Shih Tzu.
  • Due to the nostril dryness; dry eye of the same side occurs.
  • General anesthesia & atropine (muscle relaxant used to dilate the pupil of the eye)
  • Due to drug toxicity
  • Due to removal of the third eyelid.
  • Due to X-Ray if the eye comes in contact with beam from the device.
  • Due to distemper virus
  • Due to bacterial Chlamydia conjunctivitis
  • Due to long term inflammation of the conjunctiva & eyelids
  • Breed-related inclination

Diagnosis & Treatment: The veterinarian on making a thorough physical and ophthalmological examination of the dog will either prescribe a lubricant to manage the lack of tears & a topical antibiotic to be placed on the eye to treat infection or (if there is a secondary disease) will call for hospitalization.

The treatment depends on the severity of the disease.

Stimulation of tear production

  • Tear solution (artificial) applied once a day
  • Tear ointment (artificial) applied 2 to 4 times daily
  • Antibiotic drops if infection is present
  • Antibiotic-Corticosteroid drops if inflammation is present
  • Surgery rarely.

Home Care and Prevention:

On having the diagnosis, home care (part of treatment) must be started. The eyes must be kept clean & free of discharge (sticky & hard) while using warm moist compress to the eye & by cautiously rinsing the eye.

If you have any problem in treating the dogs eyes & you notice any changes like over discharge or redness while using the medication, consult your Vet.

Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) in Shih Tzu

  1. shihtzu said on January 14, 2017 3:17 am:

    Great information about Dogs’ Dry Eye Problems.

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