Orbital Infections

The orbit (eye socket) is shaped like an ice cream cone, with the eyeball at the front and the orbit walls being made of bone. The orbit has a small volume of about 30ml, 7ml of which comprise the eyeball. Other important structures within the orbit include the muscles controlling eye movement, the optic nerve, fat to cushion the eye and large arteries and veins.

There are several conditions that can affect the eye socket, see below.

What are Orbital Infections?

The orbit has the nasal sinuses and the brain as it’s neighbours. The commonest cause of orbital infection is from spread of sinusitis infection as the bone separating the orbit from the ethmoid sinus is “paper thin”. Orbit infections can also be spread from skin-based infections (cellulitis) that are inadequately treated and less commonly blood borne infections to the orbit from other areas in the body.


Orbit infections need to be treated extremely seriously as they can cause blindness or even death if the infection travels to the brain. 


Treatment is best carried out as a hospital inpatient. Imaging in the form of a CT or MRI will diagnose an abscess in which case, usually surgical drainage is required.

Otherwise intravenous antibiotics and treatment of any related infection (such as sinusitis) are the mainstays of treatment.

Specialists covering this condition:

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