The cells taken from donated eyes of the dead may now give sight to the blind, researchers believe.
Tests in rats showed that the human cells can restore some vision to completely blind rats.
The team at University College London said similar results in humans would improve quality of life, but would not give enough vision to read.
The team extracted a special kind of cell from the back of the eye. These Muller glia cells - a type of adult stem cell - is capable of transforming into the specialised cells in the back of the eye and could be useful for treating a wide range of sight disorders.
In the lab, the cells were transformed into rod cells that detected light in the retina, and injecting the rods into the backs of the eyes of completely blind rats partially restored their vision, the BBC reported.
Brain scans showed that 50 per cent of the electrical signals between the eye and the brain made a recovery after the treatment.
The study has been published in journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine.