Orbital Cellulitis Symptoms & Causes

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What are orbital cellulitis and periorbital cellulitis?

Both conditions refer to an inflammation and infection of the tissue and skin that surround the eye. They are serious infections that involve the eye and the structures around the eye.

Periorbital cellulitis involves the area from the skin of the eyelid to the bony area that encloses the eye. Orbital cellulitis is an infection that involves the eye and the eye structures within the bony cavity of the face. Both of these conditions are serious and require immediate medical attention by your child's physician.

What causes periorbital/orbital cellulitis?

The most common cause of these types of cellulitis stems from bacterial infection. The bacteria that are usually involved are:

Bacteria gets into the eye and the surrounding cavity many different ways. The two most common ways the infection gets into the eye include:

  • Trauma: Direct trauma to the eye can lead to infection from the bacteria.
  • Spread from other areas: Most commonly, the infection begins in the sinuses. The sinuses are cavities, or air-filled pockets, that are near the nasal passage.

What are the symptoms of periorbital cellulitis?

Although each child may experience symptoms differently, the most common symptoms of periorbital cellulitis appear abruptly and may include:

  • swelling of the upper and lower eyelid
  • redness of the upper and lower eyelid
  • pain
  • fever
  • general discomfort of the eye

The eyeball is usually not affected and appears normal.

Although each child may experience symptoms differently, the most common symptoms of orbital cellulitis appear slowly and may include:

  • swelling of the upper and lower eyelid
  • swelling and bulging of the eyeball
  • decrease in the child's ability to move the eyeball
  • decrease in vision
  • fever
  • general discomfort
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