Orbital Fractures

What is an orbital fracture?

The eyes sit in bone cavities known as the orbit. It is not uncommon for 1 or more of the bony walls of the orbit to break following blunt trauma. This could be caused by falls, accidents, or fights. Orbital fracture is a break in one of the bones that make up the orbit. Since the orbit is the seat of the globe (the eye), an orbital fracture can be a serious, sight-threatening break. The orbit is complexly constituted. It is made up of parts of six bones: the frontal, ethmoidal, lacrimal, and sphenoid bones and the maxilla and zygoma. A break in the orbit portion of one or more of these six bones is an orbital fracture. Such fractures may result in deformities of the face, poor movement of the eye, and double vision.

Common symptoms of an orbital fracture include:

    Bruising around the eye
    Swelling of the eyelid made worse by blowing of nose
    Pain in the eye
    Reduced vision
    Double vision
    Decreased movement of the affected eye
    Numbness of cheek

Repairing orbital fractures

Before it is determined that a patient will require orbital fracture surgery, a series of diagnostic tests will be required. Our ophthalmic surgeons will review all pre-surgery risks prior to having orbital fracture surgery.

If there is significant displacement of the eye or entrapment of one of the extra ocular muscles, then surgery is carried out at the earliest opportunity. Surgical repair of orbital fractures is usually performed on an outpatient basis meaning that an overnight hospital stay is generally not required.  Incisions are usually hidden inside the lower eyelid or in a natural “smile” line, thus minimizing scarring.  The orbital fractures or breaks are repaired by realigning the bones, returning displaced muscles or fat to the proper position, and placing specially customized plastic or metal plates to hold important structures in their proper position.

After orbital fracture surgery patients will have bruising and some swelling around the eye for about 10 days. It is highly suggested to take 10 - 14 days off work to aid in your recovery process.

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