Orbital Cellulitis: Overview, Causes, and Treatments

Orbital cellulitis is a serious condition that you need to seek help for if you find yourself experiencing its symptoms. This article will give a brief overview of what orbital cellulitis is as well as what causes it, the symptoms, and how to treat it.

What is Orbital Cellulitis?

Orbital cellulitis is a condition that affects the muscle and fatty tissues around the eye and eye socket. More specifically, it’s an infection of the eye tissues behind the orbital septum.

Orbital cellulitis is a condition that affects the muscle and fatty tissues around the eye and eye socket

Some people confuse orbital cellulitis with preseptal cellulitis, also known as periorbital cellulitis, but the two conditions are different. Preseptal cellulitis specifically deals with infections that affect the anterior to the septum. In more simple terms, preseptal cellulitis specifically affects the skin tissue around the eye and not the fat and muscle tissue around the actual eye itself.

Since orbital cellulitis affects actual eye tissue, it’s the more serious disease and therefore deserves more immediate medical attention.

How Serious is Orbital Cellulitis?

Orbital cellulitis is a very serious disease. It can lead to a variety of serious and long-last side effects.

Some of the conditions that orbital cellulitis can cause include:

  • Optic nerve damage
  • Vision loss
  • Sinus thrombosis
  • Brain Abscesses
  • Neuropathy
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Orbital cellulitis is not a disease that will go away if you ignore it for long enough. You must actively treat it to avoid further complications. To best avoid these long-lasting, negative, side effects it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of orbital cellulitis as quickly as possible and go seek immediate, medical attention from a doctor.

Symptoms of Orbital Cellulitis

There are multiple symptoms that can be associated with orbital cellulitis,

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it is worth speaking with your medical doctor about whether or not it is an early indicator of orbital cellulitis.

Symptoms include the following;

  • Eyelid swelling
  • Bulging eyes
  • Restricted or decreased ocular motility
  • Tenderness
  • Warmth in and around the eye
  • Redness of the eye
  • Discoloration of the eyelid
  • Fever
  • Eye movement accompanied by pain
  • Decreased sharpness of vision

Symptoms like fever, tenderness, and redness of the eye can obviously be related to a wide variety of diseases, but if you’re experiencing one of those symptoms along with another one of the symptoms mentioned here, then you should consult a medical expert.

The long-lasting effects orbital cellulitis can have on you and your health are worth addressing immediately whenever possible.

Causes of Orbital Cellulitis

There are four, main ways that cause your body can develop orbital cellulitis.

The four causes of orbital cellulitis are:

Sinus infections - A simple sinus infection can cause orbital cellulitis if the conditions are right. Sinus infections which affect the ethmoid sinuses, the area around the eye socket, can make patients especially susceptible to orbital cellulitis.

A simple sinus infection can cause orbital cellulitis if the conditions are right

Bacteria - There are different kinds of bacteria which increase your chances of developing orbital cellulitis. Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and beta-hemolytic streptococci are all bacteria that you need to look out for and treat with antibiotics when possible as they increase your chances for orbital cellulitis.

Blood infection - Any of the aforementioned infections can make orbital cellulitis a likely reality, but so can general infections if they enter the bloodstream. If you have an infection in your bloodstream, that infection can then be carried to any part of the body. If it somehow stays in and around the eye socket then you could start seeing orbital cellulitis symptoms develop.

Haemophilus influenza - This is a bacterial condition which normally affects children. It’s incredibly dangerous and deserves to be treated for its own sake. Thanks to modern sanitization standards, this condition is pretty rare. Additionally, there is a vaccine for haemophilus influenzae which a competent, medical doctor can administer to your child which will further decrease their chances of contracting this bacterial infection.

Treatments for Orbital Cellulitis

There are three generally accepted treatment options for people with orbital cellulitis. They vary in severity and which treatment you will need will depend on how advanced your medical condition is.

Treatment options for orbital cellulitis include:

IV Antibiotics - For most people, IV antibiotics will be sufficient enough treatment. Generally, patients receive medicines like IV antibiotics in a hospital setting under the care of nurses and doctors. Before being given antibiotics and other medicines, a doctor will perform some standard imaging to confirm that you have orbital cellulitis.

Generally, patients receive medicines like IV antibiotics in a hospital setting under the care of nurses and doctors

Emergency care - In some cases, a patient will develop a fever, irritation, or lethargy while being treated with antibiotics. If this happens, your doctor will likely send you to the emergency room because this could be a problem related to sepsis or meningitis. Both of these conditions are incredibly serious and require immediate, medical attention.

Surgery - In some extreme cases, it may be required to perform surgery on an abscess to relieve pressure around the eye. If there is heavy fluid build-up this may be the only option to help the eye heal. Doctors do not generally recommend surgery for children with orbital cellulitis.


Orbital cellulitis is a serious condition which requires your immediate attention. If you’re experiencing any of its symptoms, contact your doctor as soon as you can. Keeping this in mind, orbital cellulitis is not a fatal disease. It’s treatable with the help of a doctor and you do not have to suffer from long-term side effects of the disease thanks to modern medicine.

Additionally, it’s a rare disease. The chances of developing orbital cellulitis with modern sanitary standards are low already.

In conjunction with your other medical treatments, make sure to use Emuaid to help reduce swelling and soothe irritation of the skin whenever possible. Emuaid’s tried and true ingredients can help soothe the skin, reduce swelling, and improve blood flow under the skin.