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Lacrimal Artery
Eye & Accessory Visual Structures

Lacrimal Artery

Arteria lacrimalis

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Quick Facts

Origin: Ophthalmic artery.

Course: In the orbital cavity, it traverses laterally and anteriorly superior to the lateral rectus muscle. Passes through the lacrimal gland.

Branches: Zygomatic, muscular, and recurrent meningeal arteries. Terminates as superior and inferior lateral palpebral arteries.

Supplied Structures: Lacrimal gland, superior and inferior eyelids, and conjunctiva.

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The lacrimal artery is a larger branch of the ophthalmic artery. It usually arises within the orbital cavity, close to the optic foramen. However, occasionally, it may branch before the ophthalmic artery enters the orbital cavity.


The lacrimal artery accompanies the lacrimal nerve along the superior surface of the lateral rectus muscle, close to the lateral orbital wall, to reach the lacrimal gland. It supplies the gland while passing through it to exit the superior lateral corner of the orbital rim. It ends in the surrounding conjunctiva of the lateral canthus where it gives terminal branches to both the upper and lower eyelids, the superior and inferior lateral palpebral arteries.


In the orbit, the lacrimal artery soon gives off the recurrent meningeal artery. It travels backwards in the lateral aspect of the superior orbital fissure to anastomose with the middle meningeal artery (Dorland, 2011). A zygomatic branch passes through the zygomaticotemporal and zygomaticofacial foramina to supply the infratemporal fossa and skin of cheek, respectively. After the lacrimal artery reaches the lacrimal gland, it continues anteriorly as the lateral palpebral arteries, which supply the eyelids and conjunctiva.

Supplied Structures

The lacrimal artery provides a blood supply primarily to some of the extraocular musculature and the lacrimal gland, as well as some input to the superior cheek of the face. Indirectly, it supplies the eyelids and conjunctiva via the lateral palpebral arteries.


Dorland, W. A. (2011) Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 32nd edition.

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