Most of us know that we need strong muscles to be able to function well in every day life. They help our bodies move, and allow us to perform normal, every day tasks like dressing, cooking, driving, and more. But did you know that your body is made up of approximately 700 named muscles? Let’s take a look at the muscles that help your eyes work their best.
The eye muscles are the fastest reacting muscles in the whole body, contracting in less than 1/100th of a second. The synchronized tension of the muscle group that allows for clear vision is fascinating. The eye muscles work together to carry out no less than seven coordinated movements, allowing the eyes to track many different kinds of moving objects.
Each eye is held in place by three pairs of extrinsic muscles that constantly balance the pull of the others. The superior rectus acts to roll the eyeball back and up, but it is opposed by the inferior rectus. In the same way, the lateral rectus pulls to the side, while the medial rectus pulls toward the nose, and the two oblique muscles roll the eye clockwise or counterclockwise. All of these muscles are working together simultaneously to move your eyes in unison. No wonder your eyes get tired at the end of a long day!
Tremor, drift and flick are types of movement that result from the constant, opposing muscle tension of your eyes. Tremor causes an almost unseen trembling of a point image, and drift makes the image move slowly off-center. Before the movement becomes noticeable, there is a quick flick to bring the image back to center. These constant, tiny movements ensure that the image you are seeing constantly moves over unused parts of the retina, and that the receptors at any spot on your eye don’t get overloaded with images. The result is clear vision.
Your eye uses smooth pursuit movements to follow objects at high speed, such as word to word or line to line when reading. Another eye movement is called vergence. It helps the eye turn inward to direct the images directly onto small, rodless areas of the retina. Your brain registers the amount of distance and uses it to estimate the distance of the object you are looking at. And while all this is happening, the intrinsic muscles of the eye are focusing the eye and dilating the pupil to control the amount of light that enters.
Your eye muscles work as a synchronized team to produce clear and accurate vision. Keep your eyes working their best with an annual visit to Dr. Shofner’s hard-working team of eye professionals. They will inspect the eyes, and recommend solutions for any vision issues to ensure you see well for as long as possible.