An animal study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences suggests that saffron extract may prevent the onset of glaucoma, which is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by the loss of retinal ganglion cells. For the study, the researchers used two groups of glaucoma-induced male Swiss albino mice. One group received a single oral daily dose of hydrophilic saffron extract standardized to 3% crocin content (Pharmactive Biotech Products’ AffronEYE) for seven days, and the other group served as the control.

The researchers found that after treatment with the saffron extract, the number of living retinal ganglion cells in the treated group was significantly higher in comparison with the non-treated group. The group that received the treatment maintained healthy eye levels by the end of the intervention period. Additionally, protein biomarkers of inflammation were reduced.

The saffron extract’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidative characteristics are attributed to its naturally occurring bioactive compounds, specifically crocins and crocetins. These compounds can scavenge free oxygen radicals, thus reducing retinal cell damage and cellular self-destruction.