The orbit is an area that is not very well defined, but can be said to be the area around the eye.

The “socket” is sometimes another name for the same area, and includes the space and its contents next to the eye, as well as the area behind the eye. It is a highly complex area with many delicate tissues that are all necessary for normal visual function: nerves that make the eye move in a highly organised manner, nerves that are important for feeling anything around and in the eye, the nerve of sight, blood vessels that feed the nerves, muscles, eyeball and the other contents of the orbital space.

Disease that involve this complex area include injuries involving the bones or soft tissues, thyroid eye disease, and tumours that can be both benign and malignant. Disease in this space may manifest itself by an eye that is sunken, but an eye that protrudes is more common, and also double vision may be due to orbital abnormalities. Surgery in this area is highly specialised and only a handfull of specialised eye plastic surgeons treat patients with orbital problems. One of the main problems that may occur after or during surgery is a haemorrhage. This is important to spot early, since vision may be irreversibly damaged due to the high pressure that is caused by it. It can be seen even after “simple” cosmetic eyelid procedures, and eye plastic surgeons get patients referred with this problem for urgent treatment.

The most common cause of orbital disease is thyroid eye disease, which still is an incompletely understood disease. We now that certain people arte prone to developing an overactive thyroid, and some of these patients may also have their eyes affected. Smokers are known to suffer with a more severe form of the disease. For further information see thyroid eye disease.