Pupillary light reflex

The pupillary light reflex (PLR) is a reflex that controls the diameter of the pupil, in response to the intensity (luminance) of light that falls on the retina of the pupil and the eye, thereby assisting in adaptation to various levels of lightness/darkness. A greater intensity of light causes the pupil to constrict (miosis/myosis) (allowing less light in), whereas a lower intensity of light causes the pupil to dilate (mydriasis,expansion) (allowing more light in). Thus, the pupillary light reflex regulates the intensity of light entering the eye.

The pupillary light reflex pathway has an afferent limb (CN II) and efferent limb (CN III). The ganglion cells of the retina project bilaterally to the pretectal nuclei. The pretectal nuclei projects crossed and uncrossed fibers to the Edinger-Westphal nucleus, which gives rise to the preganglionic parasympathetic fibers. These fibers exit the midbrain with CN III and synapse with postganglionic parasympathetic neurons of the ciliary ganglion, which innervates the sphincter muscle of the iris.

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