The paper reports on photobleaching mechanisms of perylene orange embedded in thin sol-gel films, derived from single molecule studies. The experimental configuration uses wide-field illumination and one photon excitation of the molecules. Measurements have been performed both at ambient conditions and under vacuum in order to get information on the influence of oxygen on photobleaching in such porous samples. We have also recorded the evolution of photobleaching with respect to the excitation intensity. The results demonstrate that photobleaching from excited states higher than the first singlet and triplet states has a nonnegligible contribution as soon as the excitation energy exceeds a few hundred W/cm2 and that this process is favored in the presence of air. The study also demonstrates that perylene orange in sol-gel films is not a very efficient emitter but that photobleaching can be slow, which explains the interest for perylene orange as a good candidate to produce long lifetime solid-state lasers when embedded in monoliths of sol-gel.