The orbit or eye socket is a bony cup around the eye; the bones near the nose and at the floor (bottom) are fairly thin, while other bones are thicker. There are several different types of orbital fractures, and they are typically caused by blunt trauma to the face.
What is a Blowout Fracture?
A blowout fracture or indirect orbital floor fracture is a common injury that is usually caused by a powerful blow to the face by a small object like a golf ball. The thickest bones around the rim don’t block the force of the blow, so it is instead absorbed by the eye and transmitted to the thinner walls of the orbit. That can cause the orbital floor, which is the most fragile part of the orbit, to fracture.
In some cases, one of the muscles that moves the eye gets trapped by the fractured bones, so the patient can’t move their eye. Consequently, the injured eye may be stuck looking downward, or the patient may develop double vision. Injury to the nerves below the eye can cause a decreased sensitivity to pain and touch around the cheek and upper lip. The patient may also develop a black eye as blood accumulates around the injury. The patient’s eyelids may also swell shut, and their eyes may appear sunken.
What is an Orbital Rim Fracture?
An orbital rim fracture is caused by a direct and powerful impact to the face, like that of a car crash. In fact, these types of orbital fractures are most commonly caused by colliding with the steering wheel or dashboard in an accident. There are two types: zygomatic fractures that involve the lower orbit near the cheek bones and frontal bone fractures that involve the upper orbits near the forehead.
Given the powerful forces required to cause such injuries, orbital rim fractures are usually accompanied by other severe injuries, including injuries to the brain and fractures of other facial bones. Even if the injuries are confined to the eye region, such injuries can involve the optic nerves, tear ducts, nerves surrounding the orbit and/or eye muscles.
What is a Direct Orbital Floor Fracture?
A direct orbital floor fracture is caused by the same kinds of injuries that cause orbital rim fractures. In these cases, the orbital rim fracture has extended all the way to the floor.
Statistics Regarding Orbital Fractures
Roughly 2.5 million traumatic eye injuries, including orbital fractures, happen in the United States every year, and most victims are young men. 80 percent of the victims of traumatic eye injuries are male, and the average patient is around 30. The vast majority, 85 percent, of injuries are caused by accidents at work, while playing sports, doing home repair projects or in the car. Most of the injuries are caused by a blunt object like a hammer, baseball, rock or piece of wood.
Most people are injured at home. Eye injuries from automobile accidents have become less common over the years due to the use of airbags and seatbelts. The remaining 15 percent of traumatic eye injuries are caused by criminal assaults.
Is Orbital Surgery Right for Me?
If you believe that you may have an eye socket fracture, talk to Dr. Syed Ahmad, MD and his team at his office in Plano. Discuss your options regarding what to do next. Contact us today to schedule your consultation to learn more.