Vision Health – Saffron for Cataracts Reduction, AMD, Blue Light Damage
Several studies clearly demonstrate that saffron and it’s primary carotenoid constituents improve overall visual health, eye retinal health and blood flow, and the eye’s macular pigment layer. Resulting benefits include clearer vision, and reductions in both cataracts and Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD); the most common cause of blindness in older people. 4
Saffron for Epidemic Vision Problems
The world’s population is rapidly developing vision health issues. “By some estimates, one-third of the world’s population; 2.5 billion people, could be affected by short-sightedness by end of this decade. By 2050, 50 percent of the world’s population – nearly 5 billion people – will be Myopic (nearsighted). This is believed directly correlated to lifestyle changes resulting from a combination of decreased time outdoors, and increased near work activities with reduced natural light exposure a key determinant.” 1
Epidemic levels of myopia have developed across East Asia where the prevalence is now 80 to 90 % in younger age groups, versus 10–20% of the population 60 years ago. Other parts of the world have also seen dramatic increases in the condition, which now affects around half of young adults in the United States and Europe, double the prevalence of half a century ago.2
One billion people are expected to develop high myopia and be higher risk for other eye diseases such as macular degeneration, retinal detachment, cataracts, and glaucoma, which could also cause blindness. Myopia will be the leading cause of vision loss by 2050. 1
Saffron and Blue Light, Digital Devices
The maintenance of eye health is particularly important in this digital age with increasing exposure to the damaging blue light from computer screens, mobile phones and digital devices. Greater awareness to these associated vision problems is necessary, as is the need to protect our eyes as much as possible.
The American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF) has reported that “the blue rays of the spectrum seem to accelerate age-related macular degeneration (AMD) more than any other rays in the spectrum”. 3
As noted, saffron has been clinically proven to strengthen the macular pigment layer of the retina in the eye, providing protection for the eye from further damage and a reduction of AMD and cataract diseases. The crocetin in saffron (Crocus sativus L.) is a natural carotenoid dicarboxylic acid which seems to inhibit caspase activity. Experiments with albino rat models demonstrated that saffron may protect photoreceptors from retinal stress, preserving both their morphology and function and probably acting as a regulator of apoptosis (programmed cell death) in addition to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 4,5
According to researchers from the University of Toledo in a very recent scientific study, blue light from laptops, smart phones and other digital devices could raise the risk of blindness. Their study appears in a recent issue of the journal Scientific Reports. “Every year more than two million new cases of age-related macular degeneration are reported in the United States,” one of the study’s scientists Dr. Karunarathne said. “By learning more about the mechanisms of blindness in search of a method to intercept toxic reactions caused by the combination of retinal and blue light, we hope to find a way to protect the vision of children growing up in a high-tech world.” 6
The researchers clinically determined that long term exposure to blue light increases certain toxic molecules within the light sensitive photoreceptor cells of the eyes and leads to subsequent macular degeneration. Macular Degeneration (MD) is a progressive and incurable condition that leads to blindness. It most often afflicts older adults in their 50s and 60s and leads to vision loss.
This loss of vision occurs due to the deaths of the photoreceptor cells of the retina. The blue light emitted from the digital devices has a shorter wavelength, more energy compared to other forms of light and this can cause damage to the eyes. This blue light constantly affects the cornea and the lens, with no ability to block or reflect it. With time this exposure can damage the retina as their experiments have shown, and lead to slow macular degeneration.
When blue light is shone on the retina, it kills photoreceptor cells and also the signalling molecules “retinal” dissolve. The photoreceptors cannot function without the presence of the healthy retinal molecules. once photoreceptor cells are dead, they cannot be regenerated. The blue light activated toxic retinal molecules were also studied on other cell types of the body; cancer, heart, nerve. Their experiments showed that the toxic retinal produced by blue light exposure can also kill any type of body cell.
1 Holden BA, Fricke TR, Wilson DA, Jong M, Naidoo KS, Sankaridurg P, Wong TY, Naduvilath TJ, Resnikoff S, “Global Prevalence of Myopia and High Myopia and Temporal Trends from 2000 through 2050”, Ophthalmology, May 2016 Volume 123, Issue 5, Pages 1036–1042.
2 Myopia: A close look at efforts to turn back a growing problem; NEI funds research to slow the increase in nearsightedness” National Eye Institute (NEI), Bethesda, MD, USA
3 The American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF) Northampton, MA, USA
4 Piccardi M, Marangoni D, Minnella AM, et al. “A Longitudinal Follow-Up Study of Saffron Supplementation in Early Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Sustained Benefits to Central Retinal Function.” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM. 2012;2012:429124. doi:10.1155/2012/429124.
5 Maccarone R, Di Marco S, Bisti S. Saffron supplement maintains morphology and function after exposure to damaging light in mammalian retina. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2008;49:1254–61.
6 Kasun Ratnayake, John L. Payton, O. Harshana Lakmal & Ajith Karunarathne. Blue light excited retinal intercepts cellular signaling. Scientific Reports Volume8, Article number: 10207 (2018) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-28254-8 http://utnews.utoledo.edu/index.php/08_08_2018/ut-chemists-discover-how-blue-light-speeds-blindness