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Lateral rectus muscle

Anatomy and function of the lateral rectus muscle of the eye.

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Hello again! This is Matt from Kenhub, and in this tutorial, we will be looking at the lateral rectus muscle, its origin and insertion, function and innervation and blood supply.

The lateral rectus muscle is one of the six extraocular muscles which are extrinsic muscles lying on the outside surface of the eyeball. The extraocular muscles control eye movements.

The lateral rectus muscle which is highlighted in green originates from the common tendinous ring also known as the annulus of Zinn located at the apex of the orbit around the optic canal. The annulus of Zinn is formed by the tendons of the four rectus muscles – lateral, medial, superior and inferior.

The lateral rectus as the name suggests is found on the lateral aspect of the eyeball and it inserts onto the anterolateral surface of the eye. The lateral rectus muscle has one function and that is to move the eye from a neutral position away from the nose in a lateral outward direction. This movement is called abduction.

Nerve supply to the lateral rectus muscle is derived from the sixth cranial nerve – the abducens nerve. In the image, the abducens nerve is highlighted in green and shown on the medial surface of the reflected lateral rectus muscle. The lateral rectus muscle receives arterial blood from one of the anterior ciliary arteries highlighted in green which is a branch of the ophthalmic artery.

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