Optic nerve for vision only, or pain/touch too?

The other day my daughter and I were discussing the whole “If you sneeze with your eyes open your eyeballs will pop out of your head” myth, and she asked me what would happen if your eyes did pop out of your head. I said “Well, I guess for that to happen you’d have to tear loose from the six muscles that move each eyeball, but maybe the optic nerve would stretch enough to stay attached.”

Then she asked me if your eyeballs would hurt if that happened, and I started to say that it seemed pretty likely, but then I stopped and realized that I don’t know if pain and other non-visual information is carried through the optic nerve, or if some other cranial nerve(s) attaches to the eyeball somewhere (perhaps through one of the muscles or something?) that carries touch/pain sensations, leaving the optic nerve free for purely optical data.

I tried googling a bit and searching on the board, but I couldn’t find this particular question addressed. So I appeal to the SDMB collective superintellect for help. What’s the deal?

The optic nerve is only for visual signaling. What feeds the touch/pain sensations of the eye is the ophthalmic branch of the trigeminal nerve. I have no idea how the ophthalmic branch would respond if your eyeballs popped out of your head. It doesn’t seem like the nerve endings would be directly affected, but if they were somehow injured or damaged they could cause referred pain.

Thanks Brain Wreck. I suspected that was the case, but I wasn’t sure. Where does the opthalmic branch of the trigeminal nerve connect to the eyeball?

If I understand this diagram right, which I found at this Wikipedia page, it looks like the nerve that provides eyeball sensations plugs in at the back of the eyeball, in a sort of ring around the optic nerve. Is that correct?

I dunno, but if someone pulled out your eyes and stuck 'em down your pants so you could watch them kick the crap outta you, I bet it’d sting.

The optic nerve is arguably not a nerve, but rather is part of your brain, as is the retina. In fact, the retina is probably the part of the brain that is best undrstood, in the sense of the logical processing that happens in its layers of cells.