An abscess on the eye results in an encapsulated cavity in the tissue, which is filled with pus. The development of pus is a sign of infection with bacteria, often caused by so-called staphylococci. The defence system reacts to this infection by sending special immune cells, a form of white blood cells (leukocytes), to the site of infection.
These so-called neutrophil granulocytes are responsible for fighting the invading bacteria. If pus then forms, it consists of a mixture of neutrophil granulocytes, bacterial components and fragments of dead tissue cells from the area of the infection. In principle, this process is useful and a sign of a functioning immune response.
However, if the pus cannot escape to the outside, a small cavity can form in the infected tissue into which it empties. Later, a membrane forms around this pus-filled cavity: an abscess has formed and settled in the tissue. In principle, such a reaction can occur anywhere in the body where a bacterial infection occurs.
This can happen inside the body, or outside the body. Often the skin and the underlying tissue are affected, as pathogens can quickly penetrate from outside through the large skin surface. Cosmetically and also by its symptoms especially disturbing, and even dangerous, can be an abscess in the area of the face.
If, for example, an abscess appears on the eye, blinking and sleeping can be made more difficult by the symptoms. If bacteria enter the lymphatic system or the blood, an inflammation of the lymphatic system (lymphangitis) or blood poisoning (sepsis) can have serious consequences. If there is an abscess on the eye, it is particularly dangerous as it can quickly lead to serious and life-threatening complications.
Causes of an abscess in the eye
If an abscess appears on the eye in the skin area, it is often caused by an injury. The affected person does not even have to remember such an injury. Even small injuries, for example deep scratches, or the squeezing of a pimple, can in the worst case be enough to allow bacteria to enter via the skin.
An insect bite can also serve as an entry point for bacteria. However, larger injuries, such as surgical wounds, can of course also be responsible for the development of an infection and an abscess. In addition, foreign bodies, for example wood splinters, can lead to an inflammatory reaction, pus formation and thus to an abscess on the eye.
The causes of an abscess in the eye can also be the same. This is the case when a superficial infection spreads into the depths. It is then called bacterial orbital obstruction or orbital cellulitis. Other important causes of this are inflammation of the paranasal sinuses (sinusitis), the lacrimal sacs (dacrocystitis), the middle ear (otitis media) and the teeth. However, infections in distant areas, such as the respiratory tract, can also lead to the spread of the pathogens via the blood to the area of the eye and the formation of an abscess.