Inferior ophthalmic vein

Dr Daniel J Bell and Dr Craig Hacking et al.

The inferior ophthalmic vein (IOV) is a vein of the inferior orbit and is smaller than the more well-known superior ophthalmic vein.

Gross anatomy

The vein forms at the confluence of several veins within the anteroinferior orbit along the infraorbital margin from facial vein tributaries. It courses posteriorly within the intraconal space, at some point then exiting the fibromuscular cone to become extraconal. It drains out of the orbit via two tributaries:

  1. a branch drains posteriorly through the superior orbital fissure (between the frontal and trochlear nerves) into the cavernous sinus
  2. a branch drains inferiorly through the medial aspect of the inferior orbital fissure to the pterygoid venous plexus

The vein drains parts of the orbit such as the lower eyelid, globe and extra-ocular muscles.

Anatomy: Head and neck
Share article

Article information

rID: 52243
System: Head & Neck
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Inferior ophthalmic vein (IOV)

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: orbital apex diagram
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

     Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

     Thank you for updating your details.