Saffron, an expensive spice used in curry dishes, could help improve people"s eyesight and reduce the onset of blindness in the elderly, according to scientists.
The research was carried-out at the Policlinico Gemelli in Italy by Professor Benedetto Falsini.
The researchers, from the University of Sydney, saw "significant improvements" in the eyesight of 25 subjects on a three-month course of saffron pills.
The subjects were split into two groups one group took the pills for three months followed by a placebo for the same period, with the other group given the pills in the reverse order.
Professor Silvia Bisti, a visiting scholar based at the VisionCentre at the University of Sydney, said: "When [the subjects] were tested with traditional eye charts, a number of patients could read one or two lines smaller than before, while others reported they could read newspapers and books again."
He now plans discover more about the optimal dosage and peak effect of saffron on patients through a year-long study.
A University of Georgia study, published in the Journal of Food Science by the Institute of Food Technologists, recently found that carotenoids found in leafy green vegetables play an important role in eyesight.
by Emily Tait