Orbital cellulitis is a serious infection of the bony cavity in which the eyeball sits. This cavity is called the orbit. It is surrounded by 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. It causes the eyeball to have a swollen appearance. If the infection is not treated, it can lead to blindness.
Factors that increase your risk of getting orbital cellulitis include:
Symptoms of orbital cellulitis include:
Doctors can often recognize orbital cellulitis by examining your 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 often requires hospitalization. Treatment for orbital cellulitis includes:
If you are diagnosed with orbital cellulitis, follow your doctor's instructions.
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, which will prevent most of the Haemophilus influenzae type B infections.
National Eye Institute
Canadian Ophthalmological Society
Distinguishing periorbital from orbital cellulitis. Am Fam Physician. 2003 Mar 15;67(6):1349-1353. American Family Physician website. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2003/0315/p1349a.html. Accessed July 25, 2013.
Orbital cellulitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated November 13, 2012. Accessed July 25, 2013.
Givner LB. Periorbital versus orbital cellulitis. Ped Infect Dis J. 2002; 21:1157-1158.
Periorbital cellulitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated July 14, 2010. Accessed July 25, 2013.
Preseptal and orbital cellulitis. Pediatric Care Online website. Available at: http://www.pediatr.... Updated March 8, 2010. Accessed July 25, 2013.
Last reviewed July 2013 by Peter Lucas, MD; Michael Woods, MD