Eyelid Protrusion In Cats: What You Need To Know About It

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bad eyelid in cats

What is third eyelid protrusion in cats?

This cat-eye problem has a few names: the prolapsed eyelid gland, cherry eye, haws syndrome or just simply eyelid protrusion. It refers to a disturbing pink mass that protrudes from the eyelid of the cat.

The third eyelid usually remains anchored underneath the upper eyelids by an attachment that’s made up of fibrous matter. It is abnormal to be able to see a cat’s third eyelid.

Haws Syndrome

cat third eyelid showing no other symptoms

Even though Haws syndrome in cats may appear painful, it usually isn’t to start off with. However, if you leave it without any treatment, the gland might become painful, irritated, and inflamed.

Problems arise especially if the cat rubs the eye area, and the gland may start to become infected and may even bleed. The cat’s vision should not be affected by the protrusion.

Causes third eyelid protrusion

What are the causes of cat third eyelid protrusion? Every now and again it may be idiopathic, where the cause is unknown and the issue arises somewhat spontaneously. More often than not, however, there is an underlying cause.

Here are some of the possibilities:

  • Inflammation
  • Congenital condition
  • Defect in the retinaculum
  • Weak ligament attachment

Symptoms of cherry eye cats

It’s obvious what the main symptom is: the presence of a red mass that sticks out of the corner of the eye of the cat! It can happen in either one or both eyes of the cat.

This particular protrusion may occur when the third eyelid of the cat is being displaced and the causal gland tends to push outward and starts to become noticeable.

You might also see a discharge that comes from the eye. Further, the membrane or the ‘conjunctiva’ underneath the eyelid might appear irritated and red at the same time.

The nictitating membrane or the third eyelid has a function of adding protection to the eyes of the cat. Moreover, the gland that’s associated with this membrane is what provides the eye of the cat with about half of the tear production.

The tears are what protect the eyes of the cat from drying out as well as in getting injured and irritated. Further, the tear gland yields essential antimicrobial elements, which fight the infections and help in keeping the eye of the cat healthy and hydrated.

For all of these reasons, it is really important to have the cat examined or evaluated by a vet as promptly as possible.

Prognosis of haws syndrome in cats

Even though the problem is quite easy to diagnose, the vet may need to make sure that it’s a straightforward eyelid protrusion. You want to rule out it being the result of another primary cause, such as a fighting injury or cancer of the eye.

cherry eye cats
  • Ophthalmic examination –The vet might perform a complete eye exam
  • Physical examination –A thorough physical examination is important in evaluating the overall health of the cat
  • Medical History –The vet may want a complete medical history of the cat

In rare instances, the vet might need to use advanced diagnostic tools, like ocular ultrasonography to give an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment for cats third eyelid showing

Eyelid protrusion does not usually require surgical attention. Talk to your vet about the best solution for your cat’s eye.

Here are some of the more serious treatments if your puss has a particularly bad case of cherry eye.

Orbital Rim Tracking

In some instances, the vet might prefer to tack the tear gland on the orbital rim.

Pocket Technique

This technique is a common process, which may correct the condition. Since the gland can’t be moved back to its original position, a new one may be made.

Gland Repositioning

Your vet may recommend surgical repositioning of the gland. In this way, the eye of the cat must return to its normal function.

Gland Surgical Removal

Removing the tear gland is another option. However, once the gland is detached, the cat may be vulnerable to dry eye syndrome due to the eye’s normal lubrication being compromised.

Cat Third Eyelid Treatment

For more advice on what to do about eyelid protrusion in cats, please see these other guides:

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