wall fracture

In the world of medicine, a “wall fracture” generally implies the breakage of one of the bones that make up the eye socket. The eye socket (also known as the orbit) is constructed from seven different bones inside the skull.  Many of these bones are thin and prone to cracking after blunt trauma to the eye.  The floor of the orbit is most likely to fracture with injury, and the contents of the eye socket (mainly fat and eye muscle) can herniate down through this fracture into the sinus cavity underneath.  While this sounds pretty awful, this crumple zone is actually designed to protect the eye from compressive injuries. In many ways, you can compare our skull’s sinuses to the bumpers or airbags in a car. These structures are designed to break in order to protect the important passengers (in this case, the eye and brain).  Fortunately, small bone fractures heal on their own without long-term problems.  Rarely, a large wall fracture will cause the eye to look sunken inward (enophthalmos) or one of the eye muscles will get caught in the fractured bone. This may require surgical repair.  Orbital wall repairs are usually done with an oculoplastics specialist or ENT doctor in the operating room.

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Dr. Timothy Root is a practicing ophthalmologist and cataract surgeon in Daytona Beach, Florida. His books, video lectures, and training resources can be found at:

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