this medical video explores how retinal cells can help people who suffer from Parkinson's.
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Wayne Berkenkamp: I sit on my arm, not so much to hide my tremor, but because it annoys me. Jennifer Matthews: These are the faces of Parkinson's. Dick Beyer: I move in slow motion. I have trouble using a knife and a fork, and I don't smile as much. Jennifer Matthews: Standard treatment is a drug that contains levodopa. It replaces the brain chemical dopamine, but long-term use comes with side-effects. Roy Bakay: You get what's called 'on-off' effects. Patients go from being frozen, unable to move, to being uncontrollably moving. Jennifer Matthews: To fix that, neurosurgeon Roy Bakay is using retinal cells, taken from the back of the eye. Roy Bakay: The eye is an extension of the brain. Jennifer Matthews: Retinal cells produce pigment in the eyes. A by-product of that pigment is levodopa, the same chemical used for Parkinson's. Those cells are implanted using these instruments. Once there, they produce levodopa. Roy Bakay: The idea is to smooth out the delivery of the medication. Jennifer Matthews: Studies show patients' movement improved up to 50%. Daily living skills and mental outlook also improved. Dr. Bakay says it's a major step forward in treatment. Roy Bakay: It's very exciting in terms of restoring a patient's psyche, outlook and productivity. Jennifer Matthews: It's this kind of research and his own determination that keep people like Dick Beyer going. Dick Beyer: You can feel sorry for yourself or you can make the best of what you have. Jennifer Matthews: This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.