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  • What Is an Orbital Fracture?

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    Published Sep. 28, 2017

    An orbital fracture is when there is a break in one of the bones surrounding the eyeball (called the orbit, or eye socket). Usually this kind of injury is caused by blunt force trauma, when something hits the eye very hard.

    Orbital Fracture Types

    Any of the bones surrounding the eye can be fractured, or broken. Here are types of orbital fractures:

    Orbital rim fracture

    This injury affects the bony outer edges of the eye socket. Because the rim is made up of very thick bone, an injury to this area has to carry a lot of force for a fracture to occur. Car accidents are one of the main causes of this kind of fracture.

    If someone has an orbital rim fracture, it is likely they have other injuries to the face, and possibly the optic nerve.

    Blowout fracture

    A blowout fracture is a break in the floor or inner wall of the orbit or eye socket. A crack in the very thin bone that makes up these walls can pinch muscles and other structures around the eye, keeping the eyeball from moving properly. Getting hit with a baseball or a fist often causes a blowout fracture.

    Orbital floor fracture

    This is when a blow or trauma to the orbital rim pushes the bones back, causing the bones of the eye socket floor buckle to downward. This fracture can also affect the muscles and nerves around the eye, keeping it from moving properly and feeling normal.

    What Are Orbital Fracture Symptoms?

    Symptoms of an orbital fracture will depend on what kind of fracture it is and how severe the injury is. Symptoms can include:

    • blurry, decreased or double vision
    • black and blue bruising around the eyes
    • swelling of the forehead or cheek
    • swollen skin under the eye
    • numbness in the injured side of the face
    • blood in the white part of the eye
    • difficulty moving the eye to look left, right, up or down
    • flattened cheek
    • intense cheek pain when opening the mouth
    • bulging or sunken eyeballs