Lima Memorial Health System Logo
Approximate ER WAIT TIME

Health Library

Orbital pseudotumor

Orbital pseudotumor

Idiopathic orbital inflammatory syndrome (IOIS); Non-specific orbital inflammation


Orbital pseudotumor is the swelling of tissue behind the eye in an area called the orbit. The orbit is the hollow space in the skull where the eye sits. The orbit protects the eyeball and the muscles and tissue that surround it. Orbital pseudotumor does not spread to other tissues or places in the body.



The cause is unknown. It mostly affects young women, although it can occur at any age.




Symptoms may include:

  • Pain in eye, and it may be severe
  • Restricted eye movement
  • Decreased vision
  • Double vision
  • Eye swelling (proptosis)
  • Red eye (rare)


Exams and Tests


The health care provider will examine your eye. If you have signs of pseudotumor, additional tests will be done to make sure you don't have other conditions that may look like pseudotumor. The two most common other conditions are:

  • A cancerous tumor in the orbit
  • Thyroid eye disease

Tests may include:

  • CT scan of the head
  • MRI of the head
  • Ultrasound of the head
  • Skull x-ray
  • Biopsy




Mild cases may go away without treatment. More severe cases most often respond well to corticosteroid treatment. If the condition is very bad, the swelling may put pressure on the eyeball and damage it. Surgery may be needed to remove part of the bones of the orbit to relieve the pressure.


Outlook (Prognosis)


Most cases are mild and outcomes are good. Severe cases may not respond well to treatment and there may be some loss of vision. Orbital pseudotumor most often involves only one eye.


Possible Complications


Severe cases of orbital pseudotumor may push the eye forward so much that the lids cannot cover and protect the cornea. This causes the eye to dry out. The cornea may become cloudy or develop an ulcer. Also, the eye muscles may not be able to properly aim the eye which can cause double vision.


When to Contact a Medical Professional


People with this condition need regular follow-up care with an eye doctor who is familiar with the treatment of orbital disease.

Contact your provider right away if you have any of the following problems:

  • Irritation of the cornea
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Decreased vision




Cioffi GA, Liebmann JM. Diseases of the visual system. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 395.

McNab AA. Orbital infection and inflammation. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 12.14.

Wang MY, Rubin RM, Sadun AA. Ocular myopathies. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 9.18.

Yucel Gencoglu A, Mangan MS. Orbital inflammatory pseudotumor following mRNA COVID-19 vaccination. Ocul Immunol Inflamm. Aug 2022:1-4. PMID: 35914301

BACK TO TOPText only

  • Skull anatomy

    Skull anatomy


    • Skull anatomy

      Skull anatomy


    Self Care


      Tests for Orbital pseudotumor


        Review Date: 8/22/2022

        Reviewed By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

        The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
        © 1997- adam.comAll rights reserved.