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Optic canal

Recommended video: Bones of the orbit [18:29]
Bones and bony structures of the orbit.

The optic canal is a round opening located in the posteromedial part of the orbit, within the lesser wing of the sphenoid bone, when viewing the orbit from an anterior perspective. It lies just medial to the larger superior orbital fissure, and serves as a conduit connecting the orbit to the middle cranial fossa.

This canal transmits two main structures: optic nerve (CN II) and ophthalmic artery. The optic nerve (CN II) carries visual information from the retina to the brain for processing  while the ophthalmic artery, a branch of the internal carotid artery, enters the orbit to supply all its structures.

The optic canal, along with the superior orbital fissure form the apex of the pyramidal-shaped orbit. This area is encircled by a fibrous cuff known as the common tendinous ring which serves as the origin for the four recti extraocular muscles. 

Terminology English: Optic canal
Synonym: Optic foramen

 Canalis opticus
Synonyms: Canalis fasciculi optici, Foramen opticum
Definition Opening in the lesser wing of the sphenoid bone that connects the
orbit to the middle cranial fossa
Function Transmits the optic nerve (CN II) and ophthalmic artery

Learn more about the optic canal and the anatomy of the orbit in the following study unit:

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