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Muscles, Nerves, and Blood Vessels of the Eyes

by James Garrity, MD

Several muscles working together move the eye, allowing people to look in different directions without moving their head. Each eye muscle is stimulated by a specific cranial nerve (see Overview of the Cranial Nerves). The optic nerve (a cranial nerve), which carries impulses from the retina to the brain, as well as other cranial nerves, which transmit impulses to each eye muscle, travel through the orbit (the bony cavity that surrounds the eyeball).

An ophthalmic artery and a central retinal artery (an artery that branches off of the ophthalmic artery) provide blood to each eye. Similarly, ophthalmic veins (vortex veins) and a central retinal vein drain blood from the eye. These blood vessels enter and leave through the back of the eye.