Orbital cellulitis is an infection. It affects the muscles and tissues around the eye.
If not treated, it can lead to blindness and nerve damage in the face.
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Bacteria cause the infection. They may enter from:
This infection is more common in children. Things that raise the risk are:
Symptoms of orbital cellulitis are:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will check the eyes, teeth, and mouth. This may be enough to make a diagnosis.
Tests may include:
Images can show how far the infection has spread. Tests may be:
Orbital cellulitis can get worse fast. A hospital stay is often needed.
Medicines will be given, such as:
Pus may need to be drained. It may be taken from the sinus or eye area.
This problem may be prevented by treating sinus or dental infections right away. The Hib B vaccine may also help protect children.
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Canadian Ophthalmological Society
Distinguishing periorbital from orbital cellulitis. American Family Physician website. Available at:
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Accessed February 4, 2021.
Jiramongkolchai P, Lander DP, et al. Trend of surgery for orbital cellulitis: An analysis of state inpatient databases. Laryngoscope. 2020;130(3):567-574.
Orbital cellulitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/orbital-cellulitis . Accessed February 4, 2021.
Last reviewed September 2020 by David Horn, MD
Last Updated: 2/4/2021