What Is an Orbital Fracture?
An orbital fracture occurs when one or more of the bones around the eyeball break, often caused by a hard blow to the face. To diagnose a fracture, ophthalmologists examine the eye and surrounding area. X-ray and computed tomography scans may also be taken.
There are three types of orbital fractures:
- Orbital rim fracture — Often caused by car accidents, orbital rim fractures affect the thick bone of the outer edges of the eye socket.
- Blowout fracture — A break of the thin inner wall or floor of the eye socket. Getting hit with a baseball or fist often causes these breaks.
- Orbital floor fracture — A blow to the rim of the eye socket pushes the bones back, which causes the bones of the orbit floor to buckle downward. In elderly people, these breaks may result from a fall that causes their cheek to hit a piece of furniture or other hard surface.
Symptoms vary depending on the severity of the injury and the type of fracture, but include:
- Bruising — Blood pooling under the skin can cause bruising around the eyes.
- Changes in vision — An orbital fracture may cause double vision.
- Eyeball changes— Changes might include blood in the white part of the eye, difficult or decreased eye movement or sunken eyeballs,
- Facial numbness — Nerve damage in and around the fracture can lead to numbness that may be temporary or permanent.
- Pain — Fractures may cause eye pain or pain in the cheek when the mouth is opened.
- Swelling — Inflammation results in swelling of the forehead, cheek or skin under the eye.
Depending on the severity of the injury, you may receive a recommendation to wait for the swelling to decrease before beginning treatment. Possible treatments include:
- Ice packs — Cold can reduce swelling and help the injury heal on its own.
- Medications — Antibiotics and decongestants may be prescribed to reduce infections and ease symptoms associated with swelling.
- Surgery — Surgery can repair tissue prolapse and repair the orbital wall and an implant is sometimes placed to create a new orbital wall.
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