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Eye scans 101: eye medical imaging & more

Our eyes are one of the ways you perceive and interact with the world around you. Your eyes only bring in and refract light, but it’s your brain that interprets the image. Vision changes can feel scary. But vision changes or sudden vision loss can be important indicators of more significant health problems.

If you are experiencing specific pain in or around your eye, it’s essential to have this examined by a doctor. If left untreated, damage to the eye or eye socket can lead to permanent vision loss. Even a tiny foreign object can cause significant damage if not properly removed.

An eye and orbit scan will help your doctor identify any foreign bodies in your eye or damage to your eye. This will allow your doctor to prescribe the proper treatment method for getting you back to seeing the world pain-free.

What are the orbits?

The orbits refer to the two hollow cavities that protect your eyeballs. They are commonly known as the eye sockets. While the orbits are small in surface area, they are made up of many bones and muscles. The orbit itself is a pyramidal structure, the broad base of which is the open cavity and narrows like a cone behind our eyes. It’s comprised of seven bones:

  • Frontal
  • Sphenoid
  • Maxillary
  • Zygomatic
  • Palatine
  • Ethmoid
  • Lacrimal

Together these bones form the base and walls of the orbits. These bones protect your eye and provide a space for the orbital muscles to connect. The muscles inside each orbit work together to control your eye movements.

Why do I need an orbit scan?

Since a complex series of small bones and muscles make up the eye socket, any eye pain you are experiencing can be extremely challenging to identify. An eye scan will help your physician see these tiny structures and determine if there is any damage to them or abnormalities that they're presenting.

For example, if you have been in a recent accident that included blunt force to the head or eye region, there is a chance one of these muscles is damaged or that there’s a fracture in an orbital bone. An eye scan will give doctors the insight needed to create a treatment plan for your recovery and alleviate your eye pain.

Common causes of orbit & eye pain

There are many causes of eye pain, some are mild, and some are very serious. These common causes include:

  • Eyelid inflammation
  • Chalazion, or a cyst on the eyelid
  • Corneal abrasion, or a scratch on your cornea
  • Direct injury
  • Glaucoma

Some of the more mild eye conditions will resolve on their own with proper at-home care and rest. However, you will likely need to consult a doctor or more complicated or dangerous conditions, who will be able to address injuries, scratches, and optic nerve problems.

Common orbit pain diagnoses

Some issues occur with the eye and orbits that need to be handled with antibiotics, medication, or surgery. Common orbital pain diagnoses include:

  • Glaucoma
  • Keratitis
  • Optic neuritis
  • Orbital inflammation

These diagnoses require quick medical intervention to prevent them from worsening or progessing.

Medical imaging scans for orbit pain

To identify eye and orbit abnormalities, doctors may use different imaging scans. These scans produce images of the soft tissue and bones, giving physicians the information needed to make correct diagnoses and create fitting treatment plans.

Orbit MRI scans

Eye CT scans

An eye CT scan is similar to an MRI and uses a specialized contrast dye to highlight certain parts of the orbit. But instead of using a magnetic field, a CT scan uses concentrated X-rays to take images of the orbit. The CT scan is quicker than an MRI, but doesn’t show as much detail. This type of scan is excellent for viewin

  • Orbital bones
  • Muscles
  • Eyeballs
  • Brain
  • Blood vessels
  • Tumors

How much does an orbit scan cost?

The cost of an orbit scan depends on the type of scan you receive. The following financial projections are estimations, and your scan may cost less or more than these amounts.

  • MRI scan: $1400 to $3800.
  • CT scan: $1500 to $1800.
  • X-ray: $400 to $600.

The price of your eye scan will also depend on the location you choose to receive your eye scan, your insurance coverage, and other factors. The cost of an MRI and CT scan is typically higher than other medical imaging scans due to the length of time these scans take, the level of detail they provide, and the contrast dye needed to conduct them.

Find an orbit medical imaging center near me

It can be challenging to find a diagnostic imaging center right for you. Scan.com makes it easy. Use our scan search tool to find a medical imaging location near you.


  1. https://teachmeanatomy.info/head/organs/eye/extraocular-muscles/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK539843/
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/eye-pain/basics/causes/sym-20050744
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/keratitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20374110 5. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/optic-neuritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354953
  5. https://www.elliothospital.org/website/diagnostic-imaging-mri-orbit.php
  6. https://www.genesishealth.com/app/files/public/39462ab9-6f47-43dc-8357-31cbcc872873/PriceTrans-Radiology-AveragePrices.pdf

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