The fate of the oculomotor system in clinical bilateral anophthalmia

Holly Bridge*, Nicola Ragge, Ned Jenkinson, Alan Cowey, Kate E. Watkins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The interdependence of the development of the eye and oculomotor system during embryogenesis is currently unclear. The occurrence of clinical anophthalmia, where the globe fails to develop, permits us to study the effects this has on the development of the complex neuromuscular system controlling eye movements. In this study, we use very high-resolution T2-weighted imaging in five anophthalmic subjects to visualize the extraocular muscles and the cranial nerves that innervate them. The subjects differed in the presence or absence of the optic nerve, the abducens nerve, and the extraocular muscles, reflecting differences in the underlying disruption to the eye's morphogenetic pathway. The oculomotor nerve was present in all anophthalmic subjects and only slightly reduced in size compared to measurements in sighted controls. As might be expected, the presence of rudimentary eye-like structures in the socket appeared to correlate with development and persistence of the extraocular muscles in some cases. Our study supports in part the concept of an initial independence of muscle development, with its maintenance subject to the presence of these eye-like structures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-202
Number of pages10
JournalVisual Neuroscience
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


  • Blindness
  • Brain imaging
  • Cranial nerves
  • Extraocular muscles
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Visuomotor function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology


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