Your pet's eyes should be smooth, clear and bright, without any blemishes or bumps on the pristine surface. A red lump on the inside corner of the eye is definitely a problem -- although not one you should panic about.
Dogs and cats have a unique structure called the third eyelid, a thin membrane that protrudes from the lower inside portion of the eye and swipes tears across the surface. Behind the third eyelid are tear and lymphatic glands. Periodically one of these glands may protrude over the top of the third eyelid, forming a red bulge. Vets call this condition cherry eye, and it can cause heavy tearing and frequent blinking, says Mark Nasisse, D.V.M., a veterinary ophthalmologist in private practice in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Cherry eye usually occurs when tissues that hold the gland in place are weaker than they should be. It is quite common in young dogs, especially Saint Bernards, German shepherds, Great Danes, cocker spaniels, beagles, and some of the short-faced breeds. Burmese cats will occasionally get cherry eye, but generally, it is more of a dog problem, says Jane Brunt, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in Towson, Maryland.
Red lumps can also be caused by problems with the third eyelid itself. The eyelid contains a "spine" of cartilage. If this cartilage is somewhat misformed -- a condition that vets call eversion -- it will stick out slightly and irritate the surface of the eye.
Both cherry eye and third-eyelid eversion are quite rare in older pets, says Dr. Nasisse. Eye cancers, however, do develop later in life and sometimes they cause an irritated-looking red lump somewhere in the eye.
See Your Vet If...
- Your pet's eyes look dry and irritated
- You have a cocker spaniel, beagle, or a short-faced breed
- Your pet won't quit scratching or pawing his eyes
- His eyes have turned blue, gray, or cloudy, or he is having trouble getting around
- His eyes are frequently bloodshot or dry
- There has been a watery or discolored discharge from the eyes for 48 hours or more
- Your pet's eyes are bulging
- The eyelids are swollen or unable to close
- There is a growth on the eye or eyelid
- One or both pupils are dilated, or they don't respond to light
- Your pet seems very sensitive to light
- The eyes are droopy or sunken
- The third eyelids are covering the lower parts of the eyes
- His eyes are continually moving back and forth
- Blood or tiny blood vessels are visible in the center (not the whites) of his eyes
- His eyelid appears to be turned inward or outward
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