On occasion we see a pet with a swelling or “growth” appearing in the corner of the eye. Dogs and cats have an additional eyelid that sits at the medial canthus of the eye- the corner near the nose. It contains glands that produce tears and provides additional protection to the eye. There are other glands in the upper and lower eyelids and the conjunctiva that also produce tears, oils and mucus. The glands in the third eyelid produce about 30% of the tears needed by the eye to provide necessary moisture. When the ligaments holding the gland in place are weak, the gland will prolapse and appear as a growth above the third eyelid.
The preferred surgical treatment is to surgically anchor the gland back in a more normal position. The suture placed is meant to be permanent, but complications can occur if the suture becomes exposed and irritates the eye. Because the tissue that anchors the gland is abnormal, sometimes the surgery needs to be performed a second time. Because the gland is responsible for so much of the tear production, removal of the gland is not advised and is usually only performed if other methods are not effective or there are other disease problems present in the eyelid.
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