The extraocular muscles are the six muscles that control movement of the eye (Superior rectus, Inferior rectus, Lateral rectus, Medial rectus, Superior oblique and Inferior oblique) and one muscle that controls eyelid elevation (levator palpebrae). The actions of the six muscles responsible for eye movement depend on the position of the eye at the time of muscle contraction.
Four of the extraocular muscles control the movement of the eye in the four cardinal directions: up, down, left and right. The remaining two muscles control the adjustments involved in counteracting head movement; for instance this can be observed by looking into one's own eyes in a mirror while moving one's head
The four Recti arise from a fibrous ring (annulus tendineus communis) which surrounds the upper, medial, and lower margins of the optic foramen and encircles the optic nerve. The ring is completed by a tendinous bridge prolonged over the lower and medial part of the superior orbital fissure and attached to a tubercle on the margin of the great wing of the sphenoid, bounding the fissure. Two specialized parts of this fibrous ring may be made out: a lower, the ligament or tendon of Zinn, which gives origin to the Rectus inferior, part of the Rectus internus, and the lower head of origin of the Rectus lateralis; and an upper, which gives origin to the Rectus superior, the rest of the Rectus medialis, and the upper head of the Rectus lateralis. This upper band is sometimes termed the superior tendon of Lockwood. Each muscle passes forward in the position implied by its name, to be inserted by a tendinous expansion into the sclera, about 6 mm. from the margin of the cornea. Between the two heads of the Rectus lateralis is a narrow interval, through which pass the two divisions of the oculomotor nerve, the nasociliary nerve, the abducent nerve, and the ophthalmic vein. Although these muscles present a common origin and are inserted in a similar manner into the sclera, there are certain differences to be observed in them as regards their length and breadth. The Rectus medialis is the broadest, the Rectus lateralis the longest, and the Rectus superior the thinnest and narrowest.