The orbital portion contains fine interlobular ducts that unite to form 3 - 5 main excretory ducts, joining 5 - 7 ducts in the palpebral portion before the secreted fluid may enter on the surface of the eye. Tears secreted collect in the fornix conjunctiva of the upper lid, and pass over the eye surface to the lacrimal puncta.
Each acinus consists of a grape-like mass of lacrimal gland cells with their apices pointed to a central lumen.
The parasympathetic nerve supply originates from the lacrimal nucleus of the facial nerve in the pons. Just distal to the geniculate ganglion, the facial nerve gives off the greater petrosal nerve. This nerve carries the parasympathetic secretomotor fibers through the pterygoid canal to the pterygopalatine ganglion. Here the fibers synapse and postganglionic fibers join the fibers of the Maxillary Nerve, which travels through the inferior orbital fissure. Once it has traversed this opening, the parasympathetic secretomotor fibers branch off with the zygomatic nerve and then branch off again, joining with the lacrimal branch of the ophthalmic division of CN V, which innervates the lacrimal gland.
The sympathetic postganglionic fibres originates from the superior cervical ganglion. They travel as a periarteriolar plexus with the middle meningeal artery, before they merge and form the deep petrosal nerve, which joins the greater petrosal nerve in the pterygoid canal. Together, greater petrosal and deep petrosal nerves form the nerve of the pterygoid canal (vidian nerve) and reach the pterygopalatine ganglion in the pterygopalatine fossa.In contrast to their parasympathetic counterparts, sympathetic fibers do not synapse in the pterygopalatine ganglion, having done so already in the sympathetic trunk. However, they continue to course with the parasympathetic fibers innervating the lacrimal gland.