CHOC Children's
EYE CARE :: Eye Trauma

Fractures of the Orbit

What are fractures of the orbit?

When one or more bones surrounding the eye are broken, the condition is called orbital fracture. The orbit is the bony structure around the eye. An orbital fracture usually occurs after some type of injury or a strike to the face. Depending on where the fracture is located, it can be associated with eye injury.

What are the symptoms of an orbital fracture?

The following are the most common symptoms of an orbital fracture:

  • swelling of the eyelid
  • bruising around the eye
  • pain
  • double vision
  • decreased movement of the affected eye

The symptoms of an orbital fracture may resemble other eye conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

How is an orbital fracture diagnosed?

Diagnosis is usually made after a medical history and physical examination of your child. In addition, your child's physician may also order the following tests to help confirm the diagnosis:

  • computed tomography scan (Also called a CT or CAT scan.) - a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general x-rays.

Treatment for an orbital fracture:

Treatment may include:

  • A consultation with an ophthalmologist (physician who specializes in comprehensive eye care) may be necessary for a complete evaluation of the eye, especially if there is any double vision.
  • Some fractures do not have to be treated immediately. Depending on the injury, time may be allowed for the swelling and bruising to go away before the fracture is treated.
  • Surgery may be indicated for severe fractures, or if there is involvement of the eye/entrapment of the eye muscle or optic nerve. Surgery may be performed immediately, or up to several days after the trauma.

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It is important to remember the health information found on this website is for reference only not intended to replace the advice and guidance of your healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.

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