PART of an eyeball has been grown in a lab, paving the way for 'DIY transplants that would offer hope to millions of blind people. The retina a light-sensitive 'film crucial to vision was produced from scratch in what experts describe as an 'astounding achievement. Sufferers of age-related macular degeneration the most common cause of blindness in the elderly are among those who could benefit within years. The Japanese researchers used 'blank embryonic stem cells, which can turn into any cell in the body, as their starting material. They then added a cocktail of proteins and chemicals to coax the cells into developing into parts of an eye. Although the resulting retina did not mature, it was roughly at the stage found in a baby before it is born, reported the journal Nature. The experiments, from the RIKEN Centre for Developmental Biology in Kobe, were carried out in mice. Scientists have yet to show that the cells actually work. Despite this, British eye expert Robin Ali, a professor at University College London, said: 'It is a really, really major landmark. To see that beautiful structure in a dish as if it had just been taken from an animal is absolutely astounding. He believes tests on people could take place in as little as five years. Daily Mai