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Identifying and Treating Orbital Trauma


Orbital trauma refers to blunt trauma or other damage sustained by the bony socket that holds the eye. Such trauma can result from any type of physical activity, ranging from children engaging in horseplay to adults playing sports. While most orbital injuries respond well to conservative treatment, an overlooked injury can lead to more serious problems.

Dr. Dustin Heringer and Dr. William McLeish examine patients’ injuries and determine the severity of orbital trauma at their Scottsdale, AZ, practice. If the doctor detects an orbital fracture, he can provide the proper treatment for the patient, ranging from conservative options such as an ice pack or pain relievers, to surgery to restore the architecture of the eye socket.

boxer orbital trauma
Facial trauma can result in fractures to the bone tissue of the eye socket.

What is Orbital Trauma?

Orbital trauma, usually in the form of an orbital fracture, occurs when the patient experiences a blunt force injury to the eye. This can result from a car accident, a fall, or a sports injury. Patients who play sports, especially those that involve contact or hard balls, lend themselves to orbital injuries. Anyone who has taken an elbow to the face during a soccer match or caught a line drive to the face playing baseball will understand how easily orbital trauma can occur.

Types of Orbital Trauma

When a patient experiences blunt force trauma to the eye, he or she may suffer an orbital fracture. Three types of orbital fractures can occur, depending upon the location and cause of the trauma:

  • Orbital Rim Fracture – This type of fracture, affecting the outer edge of the eye socket with the thickest bone, either along the forehead or near the cheekbone, typically results from a car accident, and may accompany other facial injuries. 
  • Blowout Fracture – This fracture occurs when the orbital rim remains intact, but a crack or rupture forms on the floor of the eye socket, where the thinnest bone is located. This type of fracture may result in pinched eye muscles, which can prevent the eye from moving properly. Blowout fractures typically result from contact with a large object to the eye, such as a baseball or a fist.
  • Direct Orbital Floor Fracture – This type of fracture extends from the orbital rim all the way to the floor of the socket, and is most frequently caused by car accidents, contact sports injuries, or work-related accidents. The advent of stricter seatbelt laws and airbags have helped reduce the incidence of these fractures.
Drs. Heringer and McLeish are experts in their field, and you can rest assured that they will develop a treatment plan that will effectively restore the function and aesthetics of your eyes after an injury.

Symptoms of an Orbital Fracture

While the exact symptoms of an orbital fracture will depend upon the type of fracture a patient has, many patients may experience:

  • Decreased or blurry vision
  • Black and blue bruising around the eye
  • Blood in the whites of the eye
  • A decreased ability to look up, down, left, or right
  • Forehead or cheek swelling

Treating Orbital Trauma

Most small fractures require only conservative treatment, such as ice packs, pain relievers, and antibiotics prescribed by the doctor.

More serious fractures, however, may require surgery, especially if an injury has affected the placement of bone in a manner that interferes with normal eye movement. Dr. Heringer or Dr. McLeish can perform one of several surgeries to repair damage resulting from orbital trauma, including removing bone fragments from the eye, freeing trapped muscle tissue, and reconstructing the architecture of the eye socket for a restored appearance.

Schedule Your Consultation

If you have suffered an orbital trauma, whether due to an accident or sports injury, contact our office today. Drs. Heringer and McLeish are experts in their field, and you can rest assured that they will develop a treatment plan that will effectively restore the function and aesthetics of your eyes after an injury.

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3501 N Scottsdale Rd
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Scottsdale, AZ 85251

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