The ciliary ganglion (ophthalmic or lenticular ganglion) is a small, sympathetic ganglion, of a reddish-gray color, and about the size of a pin's head; it is situated at the back part of the orbit, in some loose fat between the optic nerve and the Rectus lateralis muscle, lying generally on the lateral side of the ophthalmic artery.
Its roots are three in number, and enter its posterior border. One, the long or sensory root, is derived from the nasociliary nerve, and joins its postero-superior angle. The second, the short or motor root, is a thick nerve (occasionally divided into two parts) derived from the branch of the oculomotor nerve to the Obliquus inferior, and connected with the postero-inferior angle of the ganglion. The motor root is supposed to contain sympathetic efferent fibers (preganglionic fibers) from the nucleus of the third nerve in the mid-brain to the ciliary ganglion where they form synapses with neurons whose fibers (postganglionic) pass to the Ciliary muscle and to Sphincter muscle of the pupil. The third, the sympathetic root, is a slender filament from the cavernous plexus of the sympathetic; it is frequently blended with the long root. According to Tiedemann, the ciliary ganglion receives a twig of communication from the sphenopalatine ganglion.
Its branches are the short ciliary nerves. These are delicate filaments, from six to ten in number, which arise from the forepart of the ganglion in two bundles connected with its superior and inferior angles; the lower bundle is the larger. They run forward with the ciliary arteries in a wavy course, one set above and the other below the optic nerve, and are accompanied by the long ciliary nerves from the nasociliary. They pierce the sclera at the back part of the bulb of the eye, pass forward in delicate grooves on the inner surface of the sclera, and are distributed to the Ciliaris muscle, iris, and cornea. Tiedemann has described a small branch as penetrating the optic nerve with the arteria centralis retinæ.