Orbital Cellulitis

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Orbital Cellulitis: This Eye Infection is Not Like Others

shutterstock 1687715188 When symptoms of a possible eye infection occur, we think of the standard possibilities. Redness, puffiness, and pain could occur if a person has conjunctivitis, known as pink eye. These symptoms could also result from infection just under the skin in the tissue around the eye. This type of infection could lead to what is called orbital cellulitis. As experts in cosmetic and reconstructive oculoplastic surgery, our team has the knowledge and skill to address this different type of infection. Here, we discuss how to know when infection around the eye requires prompt medical intervention and what you might expect when you receive care.

Symptoms of Orbital Cellulitis

  • Pain in or around the eye
  • Discharge from the eye or nose
  • Nasal tenderness
  • Fever Headache
  • Swelling of the eye area
  • Inflammation and redness
  • Inability to open the eye
  • Trouble moving the eye due to pain
  • Double vision
  • Protruding eye, also called proptosis
  • Vision loss or impaired vision

Causes Of Orbital Cellulitis

This infection within the orbit around the eye is usually the result of a bacterial infection elsewhere, such as the sinuses. Streptococcus and Staphylococcus aureus (“staph”) are the two most common bacterium associated with orbital cellulitis. It should be noted that children are more susceptible to this infection. Younger children may be affected by one type of bacteria. Older children and adults who develop orbital cellulitis may be affected by multiple strains of bacteria at once. This can pose a challenge to diagnosis and treatment. In addition to bacterial sinus infection, conditions such as animal or bug bites, wounds, or even eyebrow waxing or a tooth infection could be the origin of orbital cellulitis.

Diagnosis and Treatment

An experienced physician may form a loose diagnosis via a physical examination of the eye and thorough consultation. The doctor may also order diagnostic imaging to confirm the diagnosis. While orbital cellulitis can be a painful infection to endure, doctors do not rush to surgery to correct the condition. In most cases, a course of antibiotics is prescribed first. In more severe cases, the patient may require hospitalization and IV antibiotics. Surgery may be considered if the eye does not improve with antibiotics. In this instance, a minor procedure may be performed to drain fluid from the area, and a culture performed to gain more information regarding the microorganisms involved in the infection.

Don’t let an eye infection threaten your vision or livelihood. If you or your doctor suspects that you have orbital cellulitis, contact us. Dr. Fante provides professional, friendly care in our comfortable Denver office. Call (303) 839-1616 today.

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Cellulitis and Your Eyes

Cellulitis is a type of infection that usually affects the skin. This infection can occur anywhere on the body, including around the eyes. When cellulitis develops in the eye area, it is vital that an accurate diagnosis is obtained. Two types of cellulitis may appear to affect the eyelid: preseptal cellulitis and orbital cellulitis. To treat infection appropriately and avoid serious health implications, it is necessary to know which type of cellulitis has developed.

Preseptal cellulitis is localized in the skin of the eyelid. Usually, we see this type of infection in young children.

Orbital cellulitis affects the eye socket. This potentially serious condition can prevent eye movement and present a risk of death. Therefore, orbital cellulitis is typically treated with more aggressive means than preseptal infection.

What can cause cellulitis around the eyes?

Cellulitis often results from bacteria or fungus. Infection may originate with:

  • A sinus infection
  • An insect bite
  • A scratch or other wound on the face (including incisions)
  • Facial, head, or neck surgery (including dental work)
  • Asthma

Signs of Cellulitis

It is critical that the symptoms of cellulitis be addressed right away. This type of infection tends to spread quickly. A medical examination should be scheduled if symptoms such as the following occur:

  • Redness of the eyelid
  • Fever
  • Eyelid swelling, including tissue around the eye
  • Double vision or blurry vision
  • Difficulty moving the eye
  • Bulging of the eye
  • Lethargy or general lack of energy

Diagnosis and Treatment

When you see a doctor for any of the above symptoms, a thorough physical examination will be conducted. The eyes will be an integral part of the evaluation. To determine the type of infection that has developed, imaging, tissue sampling, and labs may also be ordered.

Preseptal cellulitis that involves only tissue around and on the eyelid is usually treated with oral antibiotics and may begin to improve within a day or two (it is essential that the entire course of antibiotics is taken).

Due to the severe nature of orbital cellulitis, inpatient care is usually necessary. In the hospital, patients can receive adequate antibiotic dosing via IV. If necessary, fluid may be drained from the infected area.

Dr. Fante performs cosmetic and reconstructive eye procedures, including treatment for orbital cellulitis. To learn more, contact us online or call our Denver office at (303) 839-1616.


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