Orbital Cellulitis Pediatric Care Plan

By David Shafran, MD
Medically reviewed
December 8, 2020

What is Orbital Cellulitis?

Orbital cellulitis is an infection of the tissue and muscle of the eye socket. Unlike periorbital cellulitis which involves only the superficial skin around the eye and the eyelid, and does not involve the eyeball, orbital cellulitis is a very serious condition that can lead to vision loss and can be fatal if untreated. 

The most common cause of orbital cellulitis is a sinus infection that spreads to the eye. Less commonly, it can also follow trauma to the eye, a blocked tear duct, and infections of the teeth, middle ear, or face.

Symptoms can include:

  • Redness/swelling around the eye
  • Fever
  • Pain with eye movement
  • Protrusion of the eye from the socket
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Paralysis/weakness of the eye muscles

Orbital Cellulitis Diagnosis and Treatment

Orbital cellulitis is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention to avoid complications such as vision loss, brain infections, and death. Diagnosis is made after a clinical exam followed by imaging, usually a CT or MRI. 

It is treated with antibiotics administered intravenously. If significant improvement is seen, antibiotics can be switched to oral. In some circumstances, in addition to antibiotics, surgery is required to clear the infection. 

See a doctor in person if…

  • Orbital cellulitis is a medical emergency. If suspected, your child should be evaluated in the emergency room immediately.

Check in with K if…

After evaluation in person and starting the proper treatment, check in with K if:

  • You have general questions about your child’s condition
  • You want general followup for your child
  • You have questions about supportive care
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

David Shafran, MD

Dr. Shafran is a board-certified pediatrics physician. He joins K Health from the Cleveland Clinic, where he led a pediatrics practice and completed a fellowship in transplant ethics. He has completed multiple fellowships, including one in pediatric nephrology at Rainbow, Babies & Children's University Hospitals. He received his medical degree from the Sackler School of Medicine in Tel Aviv and completed his medical residency at the Jacobi Medical Center.