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Eye (Orbital) Diseases

What are orbital diseases?

Orbital diseases refer to a number of conditions where one or both eyes are in abnormal positions within the eye sockets. The eye may bulge out of the eye socket, termed "exophthalmos," or the eye may be sunken which is referred to as "enophthalmos."

What causes orbital diseases?

There are many potential causes of orbital diseases. Orbital diseases, characterized by a bulging eye, can be caused by an a bacterial or fungal infection, foreign body, inflammation of the eye muscles, trauma and subsequent bleeding into the tissues surrounding the eye, or a cancerous mass growing behind the eye. A sunken eye may result from eye pain, dehydration, or a congenitally small eye.

What are the signs of orbital diseases?

Specific clinical signs are associated with different types of orbital diseases. The eye may bulge, be sunken, or have a change in position. In general, signs associated with orbital diseases include ocular discharge, eyelid swelling, impaired vision, facial pain, protrusion of the third eyelid, eye ulceration, or fever.

How are orbital diseases diagnosed?

Orbital diseases are diagnosed based on a good history and physical examination. A complete ophthalmic (eye) examination should be performed. Additional tests may be performed to provide a definitive diagnosis. The underlying causes can be evaluated further though blood tests and skull radiographs (X-rays). A biopsy (removal of a portion of tissue while the animal is under anesthetic) of affected tissues for microscopic analysis may be required.

How are orbital diseases treated?

Orbital disease can be treated medically by using antibiotics, steroids, or topical eye medications. Some cases may require surgical treatment. The treatment will be determined by the underlying cause. Orbital diseases caused by cancer may be treated with chemotherapy or radiation treatment, depending on the health status of the patient. In cases of severe orbital disease, the diseased eye may need to be removed surgically. Patients with orbital diseases may require frequent recheck examinations to assess response to treatment.

What is the prognosis for animals with orbital diseases?

The prognosis (outcome) for animals with orbital disease is variable depending on the underlying cause. Pet guardians may need to be instructed to watch for any recurrence of clinical signs. Despite treatment, some animals may be blind permanently or the abnormal positioning of the eye may not be correctable.