Pictured above is The Guardian screenshot of the newly created "retina in a dish." Those embryonic stem cells, procured from a few lab mice, are "spontaneously organising into a rudimentary eye" while that 2mm-across fluorescent stain represents the tissue that could become the complete eye.

According to the report, the team of Japanese scientists is the first to make "significant progress" in the quest to develop healthy retina cells that can be used to help repair age-related blindness.

The feat may be duplicated with human cells "within two years," the Japanese scientists told The Guardian.
Transplants of the cells could be used to help cure the onset of the disease retinitis pigmentosa, which is a cited as a slow degeneration of the retina over time.

Previous research has long demonstrated the potential of stem cells (embryonic or pluripotent) for finding "vital cures" for blindness, but this is apparently the first time that a rudimentary structure has been built. The full academic article can be found in the journal Nature behind a pay wall.