Get hit in the face by a ball (or a fist), and a broken nose is probably the first type of fracture that comes to mind. But your orbital bones — the fragile bones that surround your eyes — can also be broken. These bones are naturally thin, and that means they can fracture relatively easily.
Getting treatment for orbital fractures is essential for preventing other serious problems, like permanent vision loss.
At his practice locations on New York City’s Upper East Side and in Great Neck and New Rochelle, New York, Rand Rodgers, MD, provides advanced care and treatment for orbital fractures, including both surgical and nonsurgical options.
Here’s what you should know about orbital fractures and their treatment.
Types of orbital fractures
Orbital fractures can affect the rim of the socket or the back part of the socket called the floor (or both).
Orbital rim fractures
Orbital rim fractures occur when the edge or rim of the eye socket is fractured. Rim fractures are associated with direct impacts to the face. Many rim fractures are caused by car accidents where your head collides with the steering wheel or dashboard.
Rim fractures can affect the lower part of the rim near your cheek (zygomatic fractures) or the upper rim near your eyebrow (frontal bone fractures).
Some rim fractures affect other facial bones or other parts of the eye, including the optic nerve, the tear ducts, or the muscles and nerves that control eye movement.
Orbital floor fractures (or ‘blowout’ fractures)
There are two types of orbital floor fractures: direct and indirect. A direct orbital floor fracture occurs when a rim fracture extends into the orbital floor. An indirect fracture is when only the floor is fractured, while the rim remains intact.
Sometimes, an orbital floor fracture creates a small opening in the bone. This opening can wind up trapping part of the eye muscles or other parts of the eye. Your eye might not move properly, or you might have double vision or other vision problems.
In addition to eye pain and vision problems, orbital fractures are often accompanied by:
- Bruising or swelling around the eyes
- Bruising or swelling on the forehead or cheeks
- Problems moving the eyes
- Facial numbness
- Pain when opening the mouth or chewing
- Bulging or sunken eyeballs
- Blood in the white part of the eyeball
To prevent more serious problems, including permanent vision loss, it’s essential to call the office right away if you suspect you or a loved one has an orbital fracture.
Treating orbital fractures
Most orbital fractures occur as a result of car accidents, falls, accidents associated with home repair projects, or contact sports. Depending on the extent and type of fracture, your symptoms, and any other injuries, Dr. Rodgers may recommend nonsurgical care or surgery.
For less severe fractures, Dr. Rodgers often recommends applying ice regularly to the area and taking it easy while the eye heals. He might prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection or decongestants to take pressure off neighboring sinus areas.
If your fracture is severe, interferes with eye movements, or causes vision problems, surgery might be preferred. While you’re under general anesthesia, Dr. Rodgers makes a tiny incision and repairs the fracture, sometimes inserting a small metal plate to stabilize the area.
Afterward, you’re given eye drops and sometimes other medications to prevent infection and aid in healing. You also need to avoid strenuous activities, bending, lifting, and some other physical activities while the eye heals.
Don’t ignore eye symptoms
Eye pain with or without vision problems is a clear indication that something serious may be happening with your eyes. Dr. Rodgers is experienced in diagnosing and managing eye problems, including orbital fractures, so you can preserve your eye health and your vision.
If you’re having eye symptoms or vision changes, book an appointment online or call the office nearest you today.