Ophthalmic Veins

The principal veins that drain the orbit are the superior and inferior ophthalmic veins (Figure 18-5B).

Superior ophthalmic vein. Formed by the union of the supraorbital, supratrochlear, and angular (facial) veins and communicates posteriorly with the cavernous sinus. The superior ophthalmic vein may also receive tributaries from the inferior ophthalmic vein. Unlike most other veins, the superior ophthalmic vein lacks valves and, therefore, blood may drain anteriorly through the angular vein or posteriorly in the cavernous sinus.

VThe medial angle of the eye, nose, and lips is a triangular area of potential danger in the face. The blood in this region usually drains inferiorly via the facial vein. However, blood can also drain superiorly through the facial vein to the superior ophthalmic vein to the cavernous sinus. Therefore, an infection of the face may spread to the cavernous sinus and pterygoid plexus. ▼

Inferior ophthalmic vein. Communicates with the pterygoid plexus of veins through the infraorbital fissure, as well as with the infraorbital vein. The inferior ophthalmic vein terminates in the cavernous sinus.

Supraorbital a

Supratrochlear a

Anterior and posterior ethmoidal aa

Ophthalmic a CN II

Optic chiasm

Supraorbital a

Supratrochlear a

Anterior and posterior ethmoidal aa

Ophthalmic a CN II

Optic chiasm

Lacrimal gland

Lacrimal a.

Central retinal a.

Internal carotid a.

Lacrimal gland

Lacrimal a.

Central retinal a.

Internal carotid a.

Supraorbital v.

Superior ophthalmic v.

Facial (angular) v.

Superior ophthalmic v.

Supraorbital v.

Facial (angular) v.

Cavernous sinus

Pterygoid plexus of veins

Inferior ophthalmic v.

Infraorbital v.

Cavernous sinus

Pterygoid plexus of veins

Inferior ophthalmic v.

Infraorbital v.

Figure 18-5: A. Arteries of the orbit. B. Veins of the orbit.

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