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Palsies of Cranial Nerves That Control Eye Movement

by Michael Rubin, MDCM

These disorders involve paralysis of one of the cranial nerves that control eye movement (the 3rd, 4th, or 6th nerve), impairing the ability to move the eyes. How eye movement is affected depends on which nerve is affected.

The eye is moved by three pairs of muscles, controlled by the 3rd, 4th, and 6th cranial nerves (see Third Cranial Nerve (Oculomotor Nerve) Palsy, see Fourth Cranial Nerve (Trochlear Nerve) Palsy, and see Sixth Cranial Nerve (Abducens Nerve) Palsy). These muscles move the eye up and down, right and left, and diagonally. People with one of these palsies may have double vision when they look in certain directions.