The central retinal artery (retinal artery) branches off the ophthalmic artery, running inferior to the optic nerve within its dural sheath to the eyeball.
It pierces the optic nerve close to the eyeball, sending branches over the internal surface of theretina, and these terminal branches are the only blood supply to the larger part of it.
The central part of the retina where the light rays are focussed after passing through the pupil and the lens is a circular area called the macula. The center of this circular area is the fovea. The fovea and a small area surrounding it are not supplied by the central retinal artery or its branches, but instead by the choroid.
The arteria centralis retinæ and its accompanying vein pierce the optic nerve, and enter the bulb of the eye through the porus opticus. The artery immediately bifurcates into an upper and a lower branch, and each of these again divides into a medial or nasal and a lateral or temporal branch, which at first run between the hyaloid membrane and the nervous layer; but they soon enter the latter, and pass forward, dividing dichotomously. From these branches a minute capillary plexus is given off, which does not extend beyond the inner nuclear layer. The macula receives two small branches (superior and inferior macular arteries) from the temporal branches and small twigs directly from the central artery; these do not, however, reach as far as the fovea centralis, which has no bloodvessels. The branches of the arteria centralis retinæ do not anastomose with each other—in other words they are terminal arteries. In the fetus, a small vessel, the arteria hyaloidea, passes forward as a continuation of the arteria centralis retinæ through the vitreous humor to the posterior surface of the capsule of the lens.