From this origin, the fibers are directed lateralward, forming a broad and thin layer, which occupies the eyelids or palpebræ, surrounds the circumference of the orbit, and spreads over the temple, and downward on the cheek.
The palpebral portion of the muscle is thin and pale; it arises from the bifurcation of the medial palpebral ligament, forms a series of concentric curves, and is inserted into the lateral palpebral raphé.
The orbital portion is thicker and of a reddish color; its fibers form a complete ellipse without interruption at the lateral palpebral commissure; the upper fibers of this portion blend with the Frontalis and Corrugator.
The lacrimal part (Tensor tarsi) is a small, thin muscle, about 6 mm. in breadth and 12 mm. in length, situated behind the medial palpebral ligament and lacrimal sac.
It arises from the posterior crest and adjacent part of the orbital surface of the lacrimal bone, and passing behind the lacrimal sac, divides into two slips, upper and lower, which are inserted into the superior and inferior tarsi medial to the puncta lacrimalia; occasionally it is very indistinct.
The Orbicularis oculi is the sphincter muscle of the eyelids.
When the entire muscle is brought into action, the skin of the forehead, temple, and cheek is drawn toward the medial angle of the orbit, and the eyelids are firmly closed, as in photophobia.
The skin thus drawn upon is thrown into folds, especially radiating from the lateral angle of the eyelids; these folds become permanent in old age, and form the so-called “crow's feet.”
In addition, the orbital and palpebral portions can work independent of each other, as in the furrowing of the brows while keeping the eyes open.
Each time the eyelids are closed through the action of the Orbicularis, the medial palpebral ligament is tightened, the wall of the lacrimal sac is thus drawn lateralward and forward, so that a vacuum is made in it and the tears are sucked along the lacrimal canals into it.
The lacrimal part of the Orbicularis oculi draws the eyelids and the ends of the lacrimal canals medialward and compresses them against the surface of the globe of the eye, thus placing them in the most favorable situation for receiving the tears; it also compresses the lacrimal sac. This part comprises two pieces: Horner's muscle and the muscle of Riolan, the latter helps hold the eyelids together to keep the lacrimal passage waterproof.
Associated pathology, such as a lesion of the facial nerve seen in Bell's palsy results in the inability to blink or close the ipsilateral eyelid. Subsequent lack of irregation increases the risk of corneal inflammation and ulcers.