Sixth out of twelve cranial nerves
. The abducens nerve controls the lateral rectus muscle - this means that the action of this nerve controls each eye's ability to look temporally (away from the midline). This means that this nerve controls each eye
's ability to look laterally.
Looking for a 6th nerve palsy is a good screening sign in children with suspected meningitis. As the abducens emerges near the bottom of the brain, it is often the first nerve compressed when there is any rise in intracranial pressure.