Orbital cellulitis occurs when the soft tissues inside the eye socket become infected. If the infection isn't treated, it can cause permanent loss of vision and potentially life-threatening complications. The condition can occur in individuals of any age, but it is most common in young children. This infection develops behind the thin membrane covering the front of the eyeball, otherwise known as the orbital septum. When infections occur in front of the orbital septum instead of behind it, the condition is called periorbital or preseptal cellulitis. As the infection progresses, it can cause serious inflammation that pushes the eyeball from its usual place in the socket. The most common symptoms are swelling, pain, and protrusion of the eyes. Patients might also experience symptoms that often accompany infections like loss of appetite, fatigue, and a fever. Their eye may appear red and swollen, and it might be difficult to open it as well.
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