The eye socket, in which the eyeball is placed, is covered with a soft tissue. In rare cases bacteria penetrate into tissue – usually from infected sinuses in the nose or from the furunculus near the eye – and cause inflammation. Usually, only one eye is affected.
Pressure of the swollen tissue pushes the eyeball forward. Other symptoms are severe pain and redness of the eye, swollen eyelids that you may not be able to close, and usually elevated temperatures; in some cases the pus comes out from the eye. The condition may look like a very strong conjunctivitis. The vision worsens because of the swelling and discharge, but generally returns to normal after treatment. There is very little danger that the infection will spread to the “back”, i.e. towards the brain and cause meningitis.
Orbital cellulitis is usually treated successfully – consisting of high dose antibiotics given in tablets or injections. If the sinuses are a cause of pain, you may need surgery for sinus drainage to prevent recurrence of cellulitis.