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dilator muscle

any of the muscles that widen a body part. In humans, the dilator muscle of the iris contains fibres that extend radially through the iris of the eye and involuntarily contract as available light decreases, thus dilating the pupil. Pupillary dilation is controlled primarily by the sympathetic nervous system. Interruption of the innervation of the dilator muscle can cause an abnormally small pupil, a condition seen as part of Horner syndrome. Traumatic rupture of iris muscles can cause an irregularly shaped pupil. Dilator muscles can also be found in other parts of the body such as the nose, where the dilator naris muscle aids in widening the nostrils. Compare sphincter muscle.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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