Dr. Botond Roska, leader of the Friedrich Miescher Institute team, has a clever analogy for putting his research into perspective: "Imagine giving a speech to a large room of people, but only the first row can hear you," he says. The first row he's referring to is the eye's outer layer of rods and cones, the light-sensing cells that line the back of the retina and are the first step in a complex cascade of cells that pass information from the eye to the brain. It's the job of this first row to pass back what they "hear" to the row behind them. When this first layer of cell is damaged beyond repair from such diseases as macular degeneration or retinitis pigmentosa, the eye becomes blind, even though most of the complex cascading mechanism is still functional. As Dr. Roska describes it, a blind eye is "like a camera with the cap on."