Taking saffron pills improved the visual acuity of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) patients in a small study. Macular degeneration is the gradual deterioration of the small, yellow-colored part of the eye near the center of the retina.
Saffron contains carotenoids called crocin and crocetin. These antioxidants have been shown to have a protective effect on retinal cells.
The study had 29 participants who were in the early stages of macular degeneration and showed signs of vision loss. They took 20 mg of saffron/day, for approximately 14 months. Just 3 months into the study, they had a significant increases in visual acuity due to improvements in the retina. When they stopped taking the saffron, the effects stopped.
Saffron is made from the stigmas and styles of a flower, the saffron crocus. Most of the world’s supply of saffron comes from Iran. The study subjects had no negative reactions to the pills.
Study: “A Longitudinal Follow-Up Study of Saffron Supplementation in Early Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Sustained Benefits to Central Retinal Function” by M. Piccardi et. al. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 2012 (2012).