Orbicularis Oculi

Muscle Origin

Frontal bone; medial palpebral ligament; lacrimal bone

It arises from the nasal part of the frontal bone, from the frontal process of the maxilla in front of the lacrimal groove, and from the anterior surface and borders of a short fibrous band, the medial palpebral ligament. From this origin, the fibers are directed lateralward, forming a broad and thin layer, which occupies the eyelids or palpebræ, surrounds the circumference of the orbit, and spreads over the temple, and downward on the cheek.
Orbicularis Oculi Muscle


Lateral palpebral raphe

The palpebral portion of the muscle is thin and pale; it arises from the bifurcation of the medial palpebral ligament, forms a series of concentric curves, and is inserted into the lateral palpebral raphe at the outer canthus (corner) of eye


Blinks and closes eyes

The muscle acts to close the eye, and is the only muscle capable of doing so. Loss of function for any reason results in an inability to close the eye, necessitating eye drops at the minimum to removal of the eye in extreme cases.

The palpebral portion acts involuntarily, closing the lids gently, as in sleep or in blinking; the orbital portion is subject to conscious control. When the entire muscle is brought into action, the skin of the forehead, temple, and cheek is drawn toward the medial angle of the orbit, and the eyelids are firmly closed, as in photophobia. The skin thus drawn upon is thrown into folds, especially radiating from the lateral angle of the eyelids; these folds become permanent in senescence, and form the so-called “crow’s feet.”

Each time the eyelids are closed through the action of the Orbicularis, the medial palpebral ligament is tightened, the wall of the lacrimal sac is thus drawn lateralward and forward, so that a vacuum is made in it and the tears are sucked along the lacrimal canals into it. The lacrimal part of the Orbicularis oculi draws the eyelids and the ends of the lacrimal canals medialward and compresses them against the surface of the globe of the eye, thus placing them in the most favorable situation for receiving the tears; it also compresses the lacrimal sac. This part comprises two pieces: Horner’s muscle and the muscle of Riolan, the latter helps hold the eyelids together to keep the lacrimal passage waterproof.

Innervation – Nerve control

Temporal (orbital, palpebral) & Zygomatic (lacrimal) branches of Facial Nerve

The more anterior branches of the temporal branches of the facial nerve (frontal branch of the facial nerve) supply the frontalis, the orbicularis oculi, and corrugator supercilii, and join the supraorbital and lacrimal branches of the ophthalmic.

The zygomatic branches of the facial nerve (malar branches) run across the zygomatic bone to the lateral angle of the orbit, where they supply the Orbicularis oculi, and join with filaments from the lacrimal nerve and the zygomaticofacial branch of the maxillary nerve.


Ophthalmic, zygomatico-orbital, angular

The OA emerges from the internal carotid artery usually just after the latter emerges from the cavernous sinus although in some cases, the OA branches just before the internal carotid exits the cavernous sinus. The OA arises from the internal carotid along the medial side of the anterior clinoid process and runs anteriorly passing through the optic canal with and inferolaterally to the optic nerve. Here, it should be noted that the ophthalmic artery can also pass superiorly to the optic nerve in a minority of cases. In the posterior third of the cone of the orbit, the ophthalmic artery turns sharply medially to run along the medial wall of the orbit.

The middle temporal artery occasionally gives off a zygomatico-orbital branch, which runs along the upper border of the zygomatic arch, between the two layers of the temporal fascia, to the lateral angle of the orbit. This branch, which may arise directly from the superficial temporal artery, supplies the Orbicularis oculi, and anastomoses with the lacrimal and palpebral branches of the ophthalmic artery.

The angular artery is the terminal part of the facial artery; it ascends to the medial angle of the eye’s orbit, imbedded in the fibers of the angular head of the Quadratus labii superioris, and accompanied by the angular vein. On the cheek it distributes branches which anastomose with the infraorbital; after supplying the lacrimal sac and Orbicularis oculi, it ends by anastomosing with the dorsal nasal branch of the ophthalmic artery.

Antagonist muscles

Levator palpebrae superioris

The levator palpebrae superioris (Latin for: elevating muscle of upper eyelid) is the muscle in the orbit that elevates the superior (upper) eyelid. The Levator palpebræ superioris is the direct antagonist of this muscle; it raises the upper eyelid and exposes the front of the bulb of the eye. In addition, the orbital and palpebral portions can work independent of each other, as in the furrowing of the brows by contraction of the orbital to reduce glare while keeping the eyes open by virtue of the relaxation of the palpebral.

Pictures of muscles


Trigger Point Referrals


Stretching description







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