lacrimal bone anatomy

The lacrimal bone is a small, flattened craniofacial bone located in the eye socket. These rectangular bones consist of two surfaces, one facing the nose and the other facing the eyes.

Facial fractures can involve the lacrimal bone. Treatment of a lacrimal duct fracture may involve only rest, or reconstructive surgery may be required, depending on the severity.


The oblong lacrimal bone is about the size of a small fingernail. Forming part of the eye sockets, they have four borders and two surfaces, the nose and the orbit. From the front, the lacrimal bone will be hidden behind the nasal bone.

This pair of bones, one in each eye socket, is located in the front of the orbit, near the corner of the eye, and closest to the nose. The lacrimal bone, which supports the eye, is the weakest of the 14 facial bones.

The orbital surface of the lacrimal bone is divided by a ridge called the posterior lacrimal crest. The groove at the front of the ridge is called the tear groove. Long grooves on the nasal surface portion of the nasal surface form part of the middle meatus. The nasolacrimal duct (lacrimal duct) is located between the tear duct and the maxilla.

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The lacrimal bone is the insertion point of the orbicularis oculi muscle. It’s a circular muscle that both closes the eyelids and helps with tear drainage.


The lacrimal bone is part of the lacrimal (tear production) system. The lacrimal system contains the lacrimal glands that produce tears and the nasolacrimal ducts that drain tears from the eyes to the nose.

The lacrimal bone provides structure to the orbital cavity and supports the eye. They also provide structural support to the lacrimal system.

Related conditions

The lacrimal bone is very fragile, and blunt trauma to the face can cause fractures, especially those of the nose and eyes.

Because of their proximity to the nasal cavity and brain, fractured lacrimal bones can block air passages and can cause damage to the brain. Sometimes a tear duct fracture can tear the tear duct.

Orbital fractures are diagnosed by checking intraocular pressure, X-ray images, and sometimes computed tomography (CT scan). Careful attention must be paid to elevated intraocular pressure, which can lead to nerve damage and blindness. An ophthalmologist may be involved if the trauma causes vision or eye movement impairment.

The nasolacrimal duct, which is located next to the tear bone, is sometimes blocked. A blocked tear duct can be the result of a medical condition, trauma, or infection. Symptoms include watery eyes and discharge.

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A tear duct fracture may heal on its own or require surgical intervention. Maxillofacial surgeons are responsible for the surgical repair of the face, including the repair of the lacrimal bone.

If the bone just breaks, surgical intervention may not be needed. However, if during the trauma, the bone breaks and moves, surgical repair is required. A tear in the nasolacrimal duct may also require surgical repair.

The lacrimal bone is usually replaced and reattached to the surrounding bone with wire. Surgery can be done by making a small incision in the corner of the eye or through an endoscopy, in which instruments and a camera are passed through the nose or mouth.

It’s important to avoid blowing your nose while your bones are healing. Blowing your nose can spread infection from the broken bone to surrounding tissues. Decongestants may help during this time.

Blocked tear ducts may respond to heat, massage, and antibiotics. If the problem doesn’t respond to home treatment, you may need further intervention, such as dilation of the nasolacrimal duct or dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR), surgery to create a new tear duct.

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Before having DCR, you may have a CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) so your healthcare provider can take a closer look at your nasal passages. DCR can be performed under local or general anesthesia.

During the procedure, a small incision is made between the eye and nose, and a small hole is made in the underlying bone to create a new passage. Sometimes the channel is kept open with a stent.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where is the tear bone?

    The lacrimal bone is located on the sides of the nose near the eyes. They are rectangular bones about the size of your pinky fingernail. Flat bone, the lacrimal bone has two sides – nasal and orbital.

  • What is the purpose of the tear bone?

    The lacrimal bone supports the tear-producing system of the eye. Bones protect the lacrimal gland, which produces tears. They also support the orbital cavity that houses the eyeball.

  • How to treat a ruptured tear bone?

    It depends on the extent of the fracture. If the bone has just broken, the fracture may heal on its own. If the broken bone is displaced, surgery is needed to fix the bone.