As the Baby Boomers age, age-related macular damage (AMD), is increasing. AMD is the most common cause of vision loss in people over 50. AMD affects over 1.75 million Americans and could reach as high as 3 million within the next five-years. An ancient spice could be just what you need to protect yourself.
The macula is a small area near the center of the retina. It is essential for central vision, which allows the eye to see straight ahead. If the macula is damaged, you will be significantly limited In your ability to see things in your central line of vision.
As Age-related macular degeneration grows worse, your vision becomes blurred near the center. Additionally, objects may appear blurred or less sharp than they once did. Colors appear faded. This loss of central vision can affect daily activities such as reading, driving, cooking, and watching TV.
Outside of age, the biggest risk factor for AMD is smoking. There are also other risk factors which include sun exposure, obesity and high blood pressure.
It is also known that those who exercise regularly and eat green leafy vegetables, are less likely to develop the disease.
Recent research has shown that certain nutrients can help prevent the progress of AMD.
For example, studies have found found that a combination Of Vitamin C , vitamin E, copper, zinc, and beta-carotene reduces the risk of developing late-stage AMD by 25%. Researchers at the National Eye Institute conducted two Age-Related Eye Disease also found that a combination of lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E, Copper and zinc reduced the chance of developing late-stage AMD.
What About Saffron?
Saffron is a spice that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to help treat a variety of ailments. Saffron has also been shown to protect the eyes against macular degeneration, which is a leading cause of vision loss in older adults.
A study by Australian and Italian researchers has shown that the Saffron slows down AMD progression and improves vision.
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Researchers conducted a double-blind, placebo controlled study on people with early-stage AMD. One group received 20 mg of Saffron per day. The researchers noticed significant improvements in the Saffron group after just 90 days.
The researchers then tested 29 patients with AMD in the early stages. They gave them 20mg of Saffron daily. The 29 patients were aged 55 to 85. Researchers noticed improvements in clinical measures of the disease following Saffron supplementation.
All patients also reported an improvement in quality of their vision. Patients saw improvements in their color perception, reading ability, contrast, and vision in low light. This resulted in a significant improvement in patients’ quality-of-life.
What is it about saffron which protects your eyes?
Researchers discovered that crocin, a chemical compound as well as crocetin, is found in crocus flowers. These compounds are antioxidant derivatives from carotenoids. Crocin protects photoreceptors against light-induced death. Crocetin improves oxygen availability to cells.
Saffron also has over 150 volatile or aromatic compounds, which contribute to a long line of health benefits that have been proven by science.
Another study published in “Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science” found that Saffron extract protects against age-related vision loss, which is similar to the vision loss associated with macular degeneration . Saffron extracts were able to prevent cell death through several different pathways, including blocking an enzyme called c-Jun N terminal kinasesJNKs). Blocking this enzyme protects the cells from damage and death.
The study also found that saffron extract was able to protect against light-induced damage. This is important, because exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is a major risk factor for macular degeneration. Saffron extract can help block the harmful effects of UV light on the eyes.
Saffron For Both Types Of Macular Degeneration
There are two types of macular degeneration: dry and wet. Dry macular degeneration is more common and occurs when the cells in the macula slowly die. Wet macular degeneration is less common, but it is more serious because it causes damage under the macula. Most cases of wet macular degeneration are caused by abnormal blood vessel growth, which creates a leak in the retina and damages vision. Saffron has been shown to inhibit this abnormal blood vessel growth. Saffron may also protect against other types of cell damage that lead to macular degeneration.