[caption id="" align="alignright" width="128"] Anatomy of the eye - Superior Rectus muscle. Image from Wikipedia.[/caption]

One of the key components for learning ophthalmology is intimately knowing the anatomy of the structures of the eye and around the eye. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of things you need to know about ocular and periocular anatomy - not only do you have to be able to correctly identify the structure like we had to do in Anatomy class, but you will need to take to heart some of the dimensions and, obviously, the clinical significance.

Most ophthalmology texts spend a pretty considerable amount of space on anatomy; unfortunately not all of them provide good images or any indication of what exactly needs to be remembered (because EVERYTHING is important...:P).  There are some good review books around as well that provide some useful hints and tips on what to know and how to remember the information.

In this section of the site, I wanted to systematically highlight ocular/periocular anatomy the way I wish I had available to me when I was learning everything for the first time.  Since anatomy is such a visual subject, I will try to find images (courtesy of Google Image) that identify the specific structure(s) and the relationships with surrounding structures.  Additionally, I will try to include clinical correlations about each concept to help justify WHY this information is important.  As you can probably guess, most of the anatomical structures are essential to know for surgery, but understanding their locations is also important for diagnosis, interpreting diagnostic tests, etc.

For the sake of brevity, physiology will be a separate category.  Since much of the internal anatomy of the eye is understood on the microscopic level, there may be some overlap with histology and histopathology.  One of the things I thought would be useful was also trying to enclose some citations of texts and articles that describe the anatomy.  Most textbooks discuss anatomy as general knowledge, and I may end up truncating my Pubmed/Google Scholar searches so that I can write more articles, but I personally enjoy seeing citations that remind me where this knowledge comes from.


There are multiple ways to organize this information.  Just as we all develop our personal systematic way of working through the eye exam so that we don't miss anything, it helps to develop a schema that is all-inclusive and yet is flexible enough to accommodate new information.  For me, moving anterior to posterior, external to internal, makes the most sense.  For someone else, it might be separated into face, orbit, globe, and neuroanatomy.  Please leave a comment and let us know how you learned this information!


Periocular And Orbital Anatomy



Periocular Soft Tissue



Ocular Surface Anatomy

Ocular Attachments

Tenon's Capsule

Extraocular Muscles

Periocular Fat

External Globe





Internal Structures Of The Eye

Anterior Chamber Anatomy

The Angle


Posterior Chamber Anatomy


Ciliary Body


Posterior Pole Anatomy




Retinal Pigmented Epithelium



Cranial Nerves (selected information)

CN 1:  Olfactory Nerve

CN 2:  Optic Nerve

CN 3:  Oculomotor Nerve

CN 4:  Trochlear Nerve

CN 5:  Trigeminal Nerve

CN 6:  Abducens Nerve

CN 7:  Facial Nerve

CN 8:  Vestibulocochlear Nerve

Autonomic Nervous System

Sympathetic Nervous System

Parasympathetic Nervous System


Visual Pathway

Light Reflex Pathway

Tear Reflex Pathway

Near Reflex Pathway

Visual Cortex And Associated Cortical Visual Pathways

Brainstem Anatomy


Blood Supply


As you can tell, this will be a very lengthy project, but I hope that it will prove to be a very useful resource.  Have we missed anything?  Do you have suggestions on how to organize the information better?  Leave a comment!