Lacrimal gland

The lacrimal gland lies in the superolateral aspect of the orbit and is responsible for tear production. 

The lacrimal gland is roughly almond sized, lies in the extraconal part of the orbit, and extends deep into the orbital septum. Its structure is similar to the salivary glands but it is a unique in that it is composed of both epithelial and lymphoid tissue 2, 3.

The lacrimal gland measures ~14.5 mm in axial length, 18 mm in coronal length and ~4.5 mm sagittal length (thickness). The size of the lacrimal gland decreases with age 1.

  • bilateral enlargement 2, 3
    • sarcoidosis
    • malignancy
      • lymphoma
      • leukaemia
    • histiocytosis
  • unilateral enlargement 2
    • malignancy
      • adenocarcinoma
    • infection

"Lacrima" is the Latin word for "a tear". Some speculate that the Latin word may have derived from a copyist's error writing λακρύ instead of δάκρυ ("dacro"), the Greek word for "a tear".

The gland was originally noted by Galen, but was more thoroughly described in 1574 by Caracanus of Milan, student of Fallopius. In 1662, N Stensen demonstrated that tears were formed by the gland and did not originate in the brain, as previously thought.

Head and neck anatomy
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Article Information

rID: 29360
System: Head & Neck
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Lacrimal glands

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