by Julie J. Martin, MS
Orbital cellulitis is an infection around the eye. It affects the muscles and soft tissues around the eye.
It is a serious problem that will need treatment. If it is not treated, it can lead to blindness and nerve damage of the face.
A bacteria causes the infection, it may enter the area after:
This infection is more common in children. Factors that increase the risk of getting orbital cellulitis include having:
Symptoms of orbital cellulitis include:
The doctor will examine the eyes, teeth, and mouth. You will be asked about your health history. This is often enough info to make a diagnosis.
To look for the cause of the infection your doctor may also do the following:
Images can show how far the infection has spread. Tests may include:
Orbital cellulitis can get worse fast. A hospital stay is often needed. This will allow rapid change in treatment as needed.
Medication used to treat orbital cellulitis include:
Pus may need to be drained. It may be taken from an infected sinus or orbit.
Treat sinus or dental infections right away. This may prevent the spread to the eyes. Hib B vaccine may also help to 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 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 2018 by David Horn, MD
Last Updated: 8/23/2018
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