How Much Does a Cherry Eye Surgery Cost?

Written by: Staff

Cherry eye will occur when the dog’s third eyelid begins to protrude and turn red in color.  While it may look like a cosmetic concern, it actually can be quite painful to a dog if not treated early.  According to Vetary, Inc, this procedure is commonly found in the Bulldog, Shih-Tzu, Boston Terrier, Cocker Spaniel and Saint Bernard breeds.

Cherry Eye by spacemanor, on Flickr
Cherry Eye” (CC BY 2.0) by spacemanor

How much does cherry eye surgery cost?

The cost to have the cherry eye corrected depends on the veterinarian, the severity of the issue and geographical location.  The cost of cherry eye surgery, on average, can be anywhere from $400 to $1,200 per eye.  If both eyes need surgery, then the costs could be closer to $1,500 to $2,000.  However, if the vet deems an ointment or anti-inflammatory drug will get rid of the infection and surgery isn’t required, this could cost much less, often less than $100 or so.

According to this forum thread on, one member was quoted $719 for the surgery, while another member was quoted $1,200 per eye.

Dr. Scott on said the costs could be in the $350 to $600 range; however, the closer you live to a bigger city, the more you could pay.

Life With Dogs and Puppies Blog broke down his costs when he took in Lhasa Apsos to have this surgery done.  According to his post, the total charges were close to $2,222.  This included the consult, blood work, surgery, hospitalization, IVs, anesthetic, ointment and other miscellaneous fees you can see on the post.

Cherry eye surgery overview

Before the procedure is even considered, the vet will first want to take an ocular exam to inspect the dog’s eye to verify the cherry eye is, indeed, the culprit.  Even though a dog’s eye may be red, it doesn’t mean it will suffer from a condition such as this.  For example, it could be due to a foreign object lodged near the eye or could be related to an infection, or with some older dogs, cancer.  In general, however, cherry eye is often a straightforward diagnosis and won’t require extensive testing.

Once confirmed, the vet will first want to try an anti-inflammatory and/or antibiotics to help strengthen the ligaments inside the eyelid or get rid of an infection if he or she thinks one is present.  However, this may not reduce the swelling.  If it doesn’t, two procedures will be considered and your dog, if your vet can’t perform the procedure, will recommend you to an ophthalmologist.  The first procedure involves suturing the gland in place by tacking the gland to the orbital rim.  The second type of procedure is known as a pocket procedure, a process where a new pocket is created for a tear gland, tucked in and sutured in place.

What are the extra costs?

About two to three weeks after the procedure, the vet will want to perform another ocular exam to make sure the eye is healing properly.  This follow-up visit may or may not be tied into the estimates mentioned above.  This will all depend on the vet office billing policy.

Tips to know:

The most obvious sign of a cherry eye is a red, swollen mass in the corner of the eyes; however, other symptoms can occur as well, including a swollen tear gland, an oval mass appearance, squinting eyes, dry eyes, swelling in the eye region and/or a pus-filled discharge.

It may take up to two weeks before you see the inflammation go down, but on average, it can take two weeks to recover.

How can I save money?

There are organizations willing to fund surgeries for those who can’t afford the procedure.  Ask your vet or search the Internet to see if any organizations exist in your town.

Acting on early signs of the condition can help you save money since it can prevent the condition from worsening.  If this condition isn’t taken care of, your dog could develop something known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca, a condition which requires expensive medicated ointments multiple times per day for life.

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