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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012, Article ID 429124, 9 pages
Research Article

A Longitudinal Follow-Up Study of Saffron Supplementation in Early Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Sustained Benefits to Central Retinal Function

1Dipartimento di Scienze Otorinolaringoiatriche e Oftalmologiche, Universita’ Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, 00168 Roma, Italy
2Istituto di Biochimica Clinica, Universita’ Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, 00168 Roma, Italy
3Dipartimento di Scienze Oftalmologiche, Universita’ degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, 580131 Napoli, Italy
4Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Biomediche, Università degli Studi dell’Aquila, 67100 L' Aquila, Italy
5Scienze Cliniche ed Applicate Biotecnologiche, DISCAB, Universita’ degli Studi dell’Aquila, 67100 L' Aquila, Italy
6ARC Centre of Excellence in Vision Science, The Australian National University Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia
7Istituto Nazionale Biostrutture e Biosistemi, 00136 Roma, Italy
8Istituto di Oftalmologia, Universita’ Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Lgo F. Vito 1, 00168 Roma, Italy

Received 21 March 2012; Revised 20 May 2012; Accepted 28 May 2012

Academic Editor: Karl Wah-Keung Tsim

Copyright © 2012 M. Piccardi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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 ( ) 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 ( ), and mean visual acuity improved by two Snellen lines compared to baseline values (0.75 to 0.9, ). 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.