Cherry Eye Boston Terrier

We have two sweet Boston Terriers that are the center of our family. Through our experience of being their owners, we have learned a lot about conditions that can affect them.

Boston Terriers are prone to a condition called cherry eye where their third eyelid gland becomes prolapsed and tear production is affected. It is caused by extreme laxity in the connective tissues surrounding the third eyelid gland.

If you want to know more about cherry eye and its treatments, you need to read on. We’re also going to cover the other common eye problems that Boston Terriers are known to experience.

What Is Cherry Eye Boston Terrier?

Boston Terriers have a third eyelid located just to the inside of the lower eyelid that cannot typically be seen. This eyelid serves as a layer of extra protection, especially if the dog is in a dangerous situation.

The third eyelid contains a special gland that is responsible for a significant portion of the production of the eye’s tear film. A condition known as cherry eye occurs when this gland pops out, or prolapses.

Typically, you cannot see this eyelid. If your Boston Terrier develops a case of a cherry eye, however, it will become extremely visible.

While it is most common in Boston Terriers that are one to two years old, cherry eye can develop at any age.

Ruby the Blue Boston Terrier

What Causes Cherry Eye in Boston Terriers?

Through veterinary studies, it has been discovered that cherry eye Boston Terriers is the result of the connective tissues around the third eyelid gland becoming too lax. Because of this state of relaxation, the gland moves out of place.

There is a suggestion that cherry eye has a genetic component because specific breeds are susceptible to it, including the Boston Terrier. Once your dog has developed this condition in one eye, likely, they will eventually develop it in the other eye.

What Are the Symptoms of Cherry Eye in Boston Terriers?

The number one symptom of cherry eye in Boston Terriers is the trademark of the condition, the popped-out third eyelid. As its name indicates, it has the appearance of a cherry. There can be further damage if this is left untreated.

Your dog can experience swelling and inflammation, third eyelid infection, drying, and the risk of trauma from external objects. Your dog will also have draining of eye fluid and discharge. There may also be more or fewer tears as the third eyelid is no longer regulated.

How Is Cherry Eye Treated?

Your veterinarian will most likely choose to treat your Boston Terrier’s cherry eye with surgery. A surgical replacement has a higher indication of success as well as a lower rate of repeat occurrences. There are three common surgical procedures your veterinarian may use.

Morgan Pocket Technique

The Morgan Pocket Technique is one of the most favored techniques by veterinarians. Following this surgery, there is less than a 10% chance of recurrence compared to other options that have up to a 50% chance of recurrence.

Your veterinarian will make an incision over the gland to create a small pocket. They will place the gland back inside this pocket and stitch the pocket closed with dissolvable stitches.

Tacking Procedure

Tacking the third eyelid gland in place involves using a stitch to put the gland back in the correct place. Your dog is more likely to experience a recurrence following this procedure than if they were to have gotten the pocket procedure completed.

Gland Excision

While this method can be done, it is not recommended. The third eyelid gland is needed for your Boston Terrier’s tear production. Excising it will severely impact this ability, leading to chronic dry eye and discomfort.

Will Cherry Eye Resolve Itself?

In most cases, the cherry eye will not resolve itself. You have to remember that this condition is caused by the tissues being too loose around the third eyelid gland. It’s not likely to reverse itself.

Even if it does get better on its own, it is very likely to recur again in the future. It is very rare for unassisted improvement to occur.

What Is the Prognosis?

In most cases, your Boston Terrier will be back to normal in a couple of weeks following surgery. Roughly 5 to 20 percent of all cases will experience another prolapse and require additional surgery.

If your dog has another prolapse in one eye, chances are they will have another prolapse in the other eye in the near future. In severe cases, your veterinarian may have no other choice but to resort to the removal of the third eyelid gland.

“Surgery for cherry eye is around 90% effective. However, there is a chance that the gland can pop out again and require a secondary treatment.”

boston terrier looking at the eyes

Other Eye Problems that Boston Terriers Face

Because of the placement of their eyes, cherry eye is not the only eye problem that Boston Terriers face. Throughout the life of your dog, they may experience any of the following conditions.


If your Boston Terrier’s eyes are red but you don’t see the third eyelid, they may have pink eye. This condition targets your dog’s conjunctiva, which encompasses the eyelids and the eyeball.

In addition to the redness, your dog’s eyes may be swollen. You’ll also see a discharge that’s either green or yellow. Your vet will prescribe antibiotic ointments as well as oral medications for treatment.

Dry Eye

Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca, or dry eye, will lead to corneal inflammation as tear production drops below what it needs to be. Your Boston Terrier can develop dry eye if they have hypothyroidism, neurogenic keratoconjunctivitis sicca, immune diseases, or canine distemper.

Redness, squinting, and blinking are all indications that your dog’s eyes are dry. They may also keep them close for extended periods to relieve the pain from dry eyes.

Your vet will prescribe treatments geared toward getting your dog to produce tears again as well as eye drops to lubricate their dry eyes. You can also use a warm, wet washcloth as a compress to help stimulate the production of tears.

Red Eye

Red eye is not actually a condition on its own, but is indicative of other problems. If your Boston Terrier has red eye, it could mean it has one of the following conditions:

  • Uveitis
  • Glaucoma
  • Corneal ulcers
  • Eye injury
  • Dry eye
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Allergies

Your veterinarian will run tests to determine the cause of the red eye and treatment will be based on the diagnosis.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cherry Eye in Boston Terriers

What is cherry eye in Boston Terriers?
Cherry eye is a condition where the third eyelid’s gland (also known as the nictitating membrane) prolapses, leading to a visible red bulge in the corner of the eye. It’s not just a cosmetic issue but can lead to more serious eye problems if left untreated.

Why do Boston Terriers get cherry eye?
Boston Terriers, like other brachycephalic breeds, are more prone to cherry eye due to their facial structure. The exact cause isn’t always clear, but it’s believed to be related to genetics, weak connective tissue around the gland, or physical trauma.

Can cherry eye go away on its own?
While it might temporarily reduce in size or seem to disappear, cherry eye usually doesn’t go away completely without treatment. Ignoring it can lead to further complications, so it’s important to consult a vet.

How is cherry eye treated in Boston Terriers?
Treatment often involves surgery to reposition the prolapsed gland. There are different surgical methods, but the goal is always to preserve the gland’s function. Non-surgical treatments like topical medications may provide temporary relief but are rarely a permanent solution.

Is surgery for cherry eye safe?
Yes, cherry eye surgery is generally safe and has a high success rate. As with any surgery, there are risks, but complications are uncommon. Choosing an experienced vet can minimize risks.

What can I do to prevent cherry eye in my Boston Terrier?
Since cherry eye is largely attributed to genetics and breed-specific traits, prevention can be challenging. However, maintaining your dog’s overall eye health through regular check-ups and avoiding trauma to the eyes can help.

Will my Boston Terrier still see normally after cherry eye surgery?
Absolutely. The surgery aims to correct the gland’s position without affecting the eye’s normal functions. Vision is not impaired by the surgery, and most dogs recover with their sight fully intact.

How long is the recovery after cherry eye surgery?
Recovery times can vary, but most dogs show significant improvement within a few weeks. Your vet will likely recommend activity restrictions and an Elizabethan collar to prevent rubbing or scratching the eye during recovery.


It can be scary when you notice eye problems in your Boston Terrier. It’s important to seek veterinary assistance as soon as possible to ensure that your dog’s eyes stay healthy.

Cherry eye Boston Terriers is a condition in which the third eyelid gland prolapses and becomes very pronounced. Tear production becomes unregulated and this condition can lead to dry eye. It is caused by extreme laxity in the tissues around the eyelid.

Your veterinarian will most likely recommend surgical repair to remedy the situation. It is the most effective treatment and the Morgan Pocket Technique has a minimal probability of repeat prolapsing.

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