Eligible subjects were randomized to receive 30 mg/day aqueous saffron extract orally (17 subjects, 17 eyes) or placebo (17 subjects, 17 eyes) for one month as an adjunct to timolol and dorzolamide. Following treatment, both study groups entered a one-month wash-out period. The main outcome measure was IOP during treatment and after the wash-out period.
Mean baseline IOP was 12.9 +/- 3.7 versus 14.0 +/- 2.5 mmHg in the saffron and control groups, respectively (p = 0.31). After three weeks of treatment, IOP was significantly decreased to 10.9 +/- 3.3 mmHg in the saffron group as compared to 13.5 +/- 2.3 mmHg in the control group (p = 0.013). At four weeks, IOP was still significantly lower in the saffron group (10.6 +/- 3.0 versus 13.8 +/- 2.2 mmHg, p = 0.001). At the end of the wash-out period, IOP was 12.9 +/- 3.0 in the saffron group versus 14.2 +/- 2.0 mmHg in the control group (p = 0.175). None of the patients experienced side effects during the study and wash-out period.
Oral aqueous saffron extract seems to exert an ocular hypotensive effect in primary open-angle glaucoma. This effect became evident after three weeks of therapy.