Defining Cherry Eye in Cats
“Cherry eye” is the common name for a condition in cats where the gland of the third eyelid pops out of place and can be seen protruding from the inner corner of one or both of a cat’s eyes. Unlike people, who have two eyelids, cats have three. Their third eyelid, called the nictitating membrane, is a thin sheet of tissue that normally is well-anchored to surrounding tissue and is not visible. It functions to protect and moisturize the eyeball (globe of the eye) (eyeball), in part by contributing to tear production through a gland on the inside of the membrane. Cherry eye happens when the gland of the third eyelid becomes everted, or flips over – basically turning inside out. When this occurs, the gland becomes highly prominent, appearing as a bright red mass bulging from the inside corner of the cat’s eye(s).