The nucleus of the oculomotor nerve exists in the rostral midbrain.
It is primarily a somatic motor neuron; however, the Edinger-Westphal nucleus contains preganglionic parasympathetic neurons. Somatic fibres are more susceptible to ischemia (such as in diabetes) while parasympathetic fibres are more susceptible to compression (such as in a compressive aneurysm).
CN III controls most of the extraocular muscles including the superior rectus, inferior rectus, inferior oblique and medial rectus muscles. Damage to somatic fibres leads to the eye looking down and out.
The Edinger-Westphal nucleus controls the ciliary muscle and allows the eye to focus on an object as its distance changes (known as accommodation).
CN III controls the levator palpebrae superioris muscle which allows the eyelid to open.
The Edinger-Westphal nucleus controls the sphincter pupillae. Paralysis of parasympathetic fibres originating from the Edinger-Westphal subnucleus, due to compression from an aneurysm for example, can lead to a fixed, dilated pupil that cannot accommodate/change lens shape (cannot see near).
Picmonic's rapid review multiple-choice quiz allows you to assess your knowledge.START QUIZ NOW
*Average video play time: 2-3 minutes
Unforgettable characters with concise but impactful videos (2-4 min each)