Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) has been traditionally used in food preparation and as a medicinal plant. It currently has numerous therapeutic properties attributed to it, such as protection against ischemia, as well as anticonvulsant, antidepressant, anxiolytic, hypolipidemic, anti-atherogenic, anti-hypertensive, antidiabetic, and anti-cancer properties. In addition, saffron has remarkable beneficial properties, such as anti-apoptotic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities, due to its main metabolites, among which crocin and crocetin stand out. Furthermore, increasing evidence underwrites the possible neuroprotective role of the main bioactive saffron constituents in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, both in experimental models and in clinical studies in patients. Currently, saffron supplementation is being tested for ocular neurodegenerative pathologies, such as diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa, age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma, among others, and shows beneficial effects. The present article provides a comprehensive and up to date report of the investigations on the beneficial effects of saffron extracts on the main neurodegenerative ocular pathologies and other ocular diseases. This review showed that saffron extracts could be considered promising therapeutic agents to help in the treatment of ocular neurodegenerative diseases.
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