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by Julie J. Martin, MS
Orbital cellulitis is a serious infection of the bony cavity in which the eyeball sits, and the muscles and soft tissues that surround the eyeball. This cavity is called the orbit. It is surrounded by the sinuses. The sinuses are the hollow areas of the skull around the nose. Orbital cellulitis affects not only the eye, but also the eyelids, eyebrows, and cheeks.
If the infection is not treated, it can lead to blindness and nerve damage of the face.
Orbital cellulitis is caused by specific bacteria.
Risk Factors TOP
This condition is more common in children. Factors that increase the risk of getting orbital cellulitis include:
Symptoms of orbital cellulitis include:
Orbital cellulitis can often be diagnosed by examining the eyes, teeth, and mouth. Your medical and family history will be taken.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:
Orbital cellulitis can worsen quickly. It usually requires hospitalization.
Medication used to treat orbital cellulitis include:
In some cases, surgery may be done to drain a pus collection from an infected sinus or orbit.
Treating sinus or dental infections right away may prevent them from spreading to the eyes. In addition, children should be protected with the Hib B vaccine.
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Canadian Ophthalmological Society
Distinguishing periorbital from orbital cellulitis. American Family Physician website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed May 26, 2015.
Orbital cellulitis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115737/Orbital-cellulitis. Updated December 15, 2014. Accessed May 26, 2015.
Givner LB. Periorbital versus orbital cellulitis. Ped Infect Dis J. 2002;21(12):1157-1158.
1/5/2015 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115737/Orbital-cellulitis: Pushker N, Tejwani LK, Bajaj MS, Khurana S, Velpandian T, Chandra M. Role of oral corticosteroids in orbital cellulitis. Am J Ophthalmol. 2013;156(1):178-183.
Last reviewed May 2016 by David Horn, MD
Last Updated: 5/26/2015
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