Pharmactive launches AffronEYE for esports, gamers

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Motortion / Getty Images
© Motortion / Getty Images

Related tags gaming video gamers eSports saffron Antioxidants Eye health

Spain-based Pharmactive Biotech Products has launched a proprietary saffron ingredient called affronEYE to potentially address the negative impacts of blue-light exposure.

The ingredient is naturally derived from 100 % Spanish saffron (Crocus sativus​ L.), and standardized to 3% crocins, the major carotenoids of saffron, said the company in a press release.

“Major eye disorders, regardless of their cause, involve the activation of oxidative stress, as well as chronic inflammation which are key drivers to develop a wide range of ocular diseases,” ​explained Alberto Espinel, Manager of Strategic R&D in Active and Functional Natural Ingredients for Pharmactive. “Oxidative stress occurs as a result of the disruption of the balance between the antioxidant system and the pro-oxidant system found in cells. When this balance is altered, oxidants or more specifically Reactive Oxygen Species damage the cells and the tissues.”

Studies have reported that saffron supplementation may improve visual function, preserving retina’s photoreceptors function and retinal flicker sensitivity, said the company. Indeed, a 2019 paper detailing results of a clinical study by Pharmactive reported that affronEYE was able to preserve the retinal functional integrity after a provoked serious insult in experimental tests conditions (Fernández-Albarral et al. Int J Mol Sci​. 2019, Vol. 20, No. 17, pp. 4110​).

“AffronEYE’s unique composition of naturally occurring carotenoids contains a synergistic spectrum of anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, and neuroprotective properties with abilities to scavenge free oxygen radicals. This reduces retinal cell damage and cellular self-destruction which could be of particular relevance as an effective preventative measure,”​ said Julia Diaz, Head of Marketing for Pharmactive.


Dietary ingredient suppliers and supplement brands are increasingly looking at the booming esports category as an opportunity.

While there are an estimated 2.5 billion video gamers worldwide​, the global audience for eSports is estimated at 443 million (eSports is often defined as competitive, organized video gaming, often played in huge arenas in front of live audiences).

Screen time has reportedly spiked to more than 13 hours per day during the pandemic, according to Eyesafe Nielsen estimates, and this has been accompanied by concerns about the impacts on eye health.

Studies have shown that short-wavelength blue visible light induces photo-oxidative stress, retinal injury and may be a risk factor for developing macular degeneration and other eye related diseases such a glaucoma later on down the road.

A recent epidemiological study reveals a rising prevalence of early onset myopia among school children globally with highest prevalence in Asia (60%) compared to Europe (40%). This raises the risks of progression to myopic macular degeneration, retinal detachment, and other eye pathologies (Grzybowski et al., BMC Ophthalmology, ​2020, Vol. 20, Article No. 27​).

Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome or Gamer Eye Syndrome include eyestrain, itchy and burning eyes, redness of the eyes, extremely dry eyes, nausea, malaise, visual defects, headaches, and neck and shoulder pain.

Established carotenoids for eye health, like lutein and zeaxanthin, have been studied in the context of protecting against the detrimental effects of blue light, but Pharmactive claims that its formulation ensures that the saffron-derived carotenoids in its ingredient are rapidly absorbed and can reach the maximum concentration in blood after only 1.5 hours. “The data comes from a proprietary study, not published for the moment until we can include further extracts to compare,"​ the company told NutraIngredients-USA.

“Limiting screen-time is definitely the best solution, but with in-person socializing having practically disappeared, and more people working from home and gaming on the increase, reducing screen time might not be practical,” ​said Diaz. “AffronEYE is a next-gen ingredient formulated specifically to address eye health, also from blue-light strain.”

AffronEYE is water-soluble and suitable for food matrices, beverage powders, supplements, dairy foods, and more. It is non-GMO, non-irradiated, and carries both kosher and halal certifications.

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