Several studies have indicated saffron’s power to protect the eye from the effects of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD). This precious yellow & red spice contains the carotenoids crocin and crocetin, antioxidants that appear to protect the retina. Visual acuity has been shown to be improved in Macular Degeneration patients who take a saffron supplement. These supplements may also increase blood flow to the retinal area, improve light sensitivity, and reduce photo-oxidative damage.
Saffron comes from a crocus flower, and it is a popular food flavoring. These tiny, feather-light stigmas and styles are the most expensive spice in the world; however, saffron supplements contain a measured and effective dose in a convenient capsule form.
A 2016 study1 found that the health of retinal cells and retinal photoreceptors cells was improved by saffron supplements. The researchers believe that saffron was able to inhibit retina-damaging bioelectrical currents.
One small study2 of ARMD patients found that 20 mg of saffron per day increased visual acuity. The effect took place in just three months. These changes were attributed to improvements in the retina. Stopping the supplements stopped the improvements.
Another study3 looked at visual acuity and retinal light sensitivity. Early ARMD patients had improvements while taking saffron. A related study found this to be the case regardless of genetic heritage4.
The Snellen Chart is used to measure visual acuity or sharpness of vision. Patients with early ARMD who took saffron had improvements of one full line on this chart, a 14% improvement.5 Another paper6 found an improvement of two lines on the Snellen Chart.
Natural Eye Care carries Saffron 2020, which contains the researched 20 mg of saffron per day plus other great antioxidants for retinal and eye support in a convenient vegetarian capsule. The capsule can be opened and mixed into soft food.
- Corso L., Cavallero A., Baroni D., et al. Saffron reduces ATP-induced retinal cytotoxicity by targeting P2X7 receptors. Purinergic Signaling, March 2016. ↩
- Marangoni D, Fasini B, PiccardiM, et al. Functional effect of saffron supplementation and risk genotypes in early age-related macular degeneration: a preliminary report. J Transl Med. 2013;11:228 ↩
- References: Falsini B, Piccardi M. Minella A, et al. Influence of saffron supplementation on retinal flicker sensitivity in early age-related macular degeneration. Invest Opththalmol Vis Sci. 2010;51(12):6118-24. ↩
- Piccardi M, Marangoni D, Minella AM, et al. A longitudinal follow-up study of saffron supplementation in early stage age-related macular degeneration: sustained benefits to central retinal function. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:429124 ↩
- Marangoni D, Fasini B, Piccardi M, et al. Functional effect of saffron supplementation and risk genotypes in early age-related macular degeneration: a preliminary report. J Transl Med. 2013;11:228 ↩
- “Although the ways of action are still under investigation it seems reasonable to conclude that saffron components can reduce photoreceptor death and preserve visual function”. Source: Vis Neurosci. 2014 Sep;31(4-5):355-61. ↩