Orbital cellulitis is a serious infection of the bony cavity in which the eyeball sits, which 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 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.
Eyeball in Orbit
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There are several common causes of orbital cellulitis:
Children are at high risk of severe infections from orbital cellulitis that could result in blindness. For this reason, they should be given immediate medical attention. In young children, the infection is often caused by a sinus infection due to a organism called Haemophilus influenzae .
A risk factor is something that increases the chance of getting a disease or condition. Some risk factors for orbital cellulitis include:
Symptoms of orbital cellulitis include:
Doctors can often recognize orbital cellulitis by examining your eyes, teeth, and mouth. However, to determine the cause of the infection, you may be given the following tests or examinations:
Orbital cellulitis can worsen quickly. Often it requires hospitalization. Treatment for orbital cellulitis includes:
If you are diagnosed with orbital cellulitis, follow your doctor's instructions .
National Eye Institute
Canadian Ophthalmological Society
American Family Physician. Distinguishing periorbital from orbital cellulitis. American Family Physician website. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/20030315/tips/23.html . Accessed August 20, 2005.
Beers MH, Fletcher AJ, Jones TV, et al, eds. The Merck Manual of Medical Information . 2nd ed. Whitehouse Station, NJ: Merck Research Laboratories; 2003.
DynaMed Editorial Team. Orbital cellulitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated July 16, 2010. Accessed November 10, 2010.
Givner LB. Periorbital versus orbital cellulitis. Ped Infect Dis J . 2002; 21:1157-1158.
Pediatric Care Online. Preseptal and orbital cellulitis. Pediatric Care Online website. Available at: http://www.pediatriccareonline.org/pco/ub/view/Point-of-Care-Quick-Reference/397218/0/Preseptal_and_Orbital_Cellulitis . Updated July 2008. Accessed July 21, 2009.
Last reviewed September 2012 by Peter Lucas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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