What Is the Periorbita?

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  • Written By: Jennifer Long
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 30 August 2019
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The human eye region is made of many different bones for structure. Protection of the eyeball is done by a section called the orbit, otherwise known as the eye socket. An area called the periorbita surrounds the orbit. It can also be referred to as the periosteum, but the term generally refers to the whole area surrounding the eye socket, including the surrounding eye tissue.

There are seven different bones that form the orbit. The whole purpose of these bones is to provide structure for the face and protect the eyeballs. Immediately surrounding the orbit is the area known as the periorbita. Due to its location and the broad definition given for this area, it can refer to any point within the immediate vicinity of the orbit, including the eyelids.

Periosteum is a type of connective tissue. The periorbita is also called periosteum in this area because it is loosely connected to the edge of the bones of the eye socket. Some medical professionals also consider the eyelids as a type of periosteum, but they are definitely included as part of the periorbital area. Correctly identifying and classifying this area and which parts it includes can help doctors when patients develop cellulitis.


Cellulitis is a type of bacterial infection that causes pain, swelling, and redness. It makes skin feel hot and sore to the touch and spreads fast. When cellulitis occurs around the eye region, doctors must determine whether it is orbital or periorbital cellulitis. To reach a proper diagnosis, understanding the difference between the orbit and the periorbita is vital. Orbital cellulitis is much more serious than periorbital cellulitis and requires emergency medical care to prevent damage to the eye and nerves.

Unlike orbital cellulitis, periorbital cellulitis only occurs in the area surrounding the orbit. The areas of the periorbita that are most commonly affected by a bacterial infection include the skin around the eye socket and the eyelids. Periorbital cellulitis is commonly caused by streptococcus or staphylococcus bacteria. Infections often start in another location, such as the sinuses, and spread.

If an infection has occurred in the periorbita, doctors will provide a specific type of antibiotic. Gram positive antibiotics are given for commonly occurring bacterial infections because the bacteria respond to this particular type. Swab tests will help confirm the type of bacteria causing the infection. Due to the close proximity of the periorbita to the eyeball, rapid and highly effective treatment is necessary to prevent the spreading of the infection.


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