Orbital cellulitis is an acute infection of the tissues immediately surrounding the eye with potentially serious complications.
This condition is considered a major ophthalmologic emergency that requires immediate treatment.
Incidence; Causes and Development
Infants and children up to the age of seven seem to be particularly susceptible to infection with Hemophilus influenzae
and are most at risk. The actual incidence is not reported, but it is a rare infection.
It is usually caused by a bacterial
infection which typically will have spread from the ethmoid or para-nasal sinuses
but may also have its origin elsewhere such as a boil
on the eye or eyelid (stye), recent trauma to the eye, injury to the eyelid (including bug bites), or a foreign object.
Among children, orbital cellulitis
– and the less serious infection but still important periorbital cellulitis – is most often caused by the organism Hemophilus influenzae
. Other organisms such as Staphylococcus aureus
, Streptococcus pneumoniae
and Beta hemolytic streptococci
also may cause this condition.
Signs and Symptoms
- Fever – generally 102°F or higher
- Painful swelling of upper and lower lids (upper is usually greater)
- Eyelid appears shiny, taut and is reddish or purplish in color
- Restricted eye movements.
- Eye pain, especially with movement
- Eye burning, itching and discharge)
- Swelling of the eyelids
- Decreased vision as a result of swollen eyelid
- Bulging eyes (forward displacement of the eye)
- General malaise
- In infants or children: appearing acutely ill or toxic
Diagnosis and Tests
Tests commonly include:
Other tests may include:
- An X-ray of the sinuses and orbit
- A CT scan or MRI of the sinuses and orbit
- A culture of eye drainage
- A culture of nose drainage
- A throat culture.
Treatment and Prevention
Hospitalization is always required. Treatment consists of IV
fluids with antibiotics. Surgical drainage of an abscess
may be necessary. Proper evaluation and early treatment of sinus
, dental, or other infections may prevent the spread of infection to the eye(s).
Prognosis; Complications; Seek medical attention if...
With early recognition and treatment the patient can be expected to recover fully.
Complications can include:
A physician should be called if a child exhibits any swelling of the eyelid, especially if it is associated with fever.