Orbital inflammation following COVID-19 vaccination: A case series and literature review

Int Ophthalmol. 2023 Sep;43(9):3391-3401. doi: 10.1007/s10792-023-02747-6. Epub 2023 May 17.


Purpose: The purpose of the study was to report three cases of orbital inflammation following administration of the COVID-19 vaccination, manifesting as Tolosa-Hunt syndrome (THS) and orbital myositis.

Method: A retrospective case series and literature review of patients who developed orbital inflammation following a COVID-19 vaccination.

Results: One patient presented with Tolosa-Hunt syndrome (THS) 14 days following her third (booster) COVID-19 vaccination, one patient developed orbital myositis 10 days following his first COVID-19 vaccination and one patient developed recurrent orbital myositis 1 and 7 days following her second and fourth COVID-19 vaccination. All patients received the Comirnaty vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech). A thorough systemic autoimmune disease workup in both patients was unremarkable. Two patients had a prior history of orbital inflammation, with previous involvement of other different orbital structures. Characteristic MRI features for each pathology were observed, supporting the clinical presentation of THS and orbital myositis. There was complete resolution of THS following corticosteroids, with no recurrence at 2 months. Meanwhile, one case of orbital myositis self-resolved at 2 months without use of systemic corticosteroids, while the other patient with orbital myositis required treatment with intra-orbital steroid injections and oral corticosteroids.

Conclusion: Orbital inflammation has been recognised as a rare adverse effect following COVID-19 vaccination. We present a case series of THS and orbital myositis as varied presentations of this entity.

Keywords: COVID-19; Dacryoadenitis; Orbit; Orbital inflammation; Orbital myositis; Vaccine.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • COVID-19 Vaccines* / adverse effects
  • COVID-19*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / diagnosis
  • Inflammation / etiology
  • Orbital Myositis* / diagnosis
  • Orbital Myositis* / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tolosa-Hunt Syndrome* / drug therapy
  • Tolosa-Hunt Syndrome* / pathology
  • Vaccination


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • COVID-19 Vaccines