A longitudinal follow-up study of saffron supplementation in early age-related macular degeneration: sustained benefits to central retinal function

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:429124. doi: 10.1155/2012/429124. Epub 2012 Jul 18.

Abstract

Objectives. In a previous randomized clinical trial (Falsini et al. (2010)), it was shown that short-term Saffron supplementation improves retinal flicker sensitivity in early age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The aim of this study was to evaluate whether the observed functional benefits from Saffron supplementation may extend over a longer follow-up duration. Design. Longitudinal, interventional open-label study. Setting. Outpatient ophthalmology setting. Participants. Twenty-nine early AMD patients (age range: 55-85 years) with a baseline visual acuity >0.3. Intervention. Saffron oral supplementation (20 mg/day) over an average period of treatment of 14 (±2) months. Measurements. Clinical examination and focal-electroretinogram-(fERG-) derived macular (18°) flicker sensitivity estimate (Falsini et al. (2010)) every three months over a followup of 14 (±2) months. Retinal sensitivity, the reciprocal value of the estimated fERG amplitude threshold, was the main outcome measure. Results. After three months of supplementation, mean fERG sensitivity improved by 0.3 log units compared to baseline values (P < 0.01), and mean visual acuity improved by two Snellen lines compared to baseline values (0.75 to 0.9, P < 0.01). These changes remained stable over the follow-up period. Conclusion. These results indicate that in early AMD Saffron supplementation induces macular function improvements from baseline that are extended over a long-term followup.