US woman regains sight after 21 years of blindness

A 70-year-old woman who lost her sight after a traumatic injury two decades ago recently regained her vision following an operation for a fall.

In 1993, Ms Mary Ann Franco injured her spine in a car accident which caused her to go blind.

Last August, she fell down at her home in Florida, reported ABC News .

"I was in my living room, going over to the door. My foot caught on a tile, and it flipped me. I hit my head in the back and hit it on something else, maybe the fireplace," she said.

The elderly woman was left immobilised by the fall and underwent neck surgery for pain in her neck and arm on April 6 this year.

According to The Independent UK , as the anaesthesia from the operation wore off, Ms Franco called out to a nurse, saying "Hey, lady in purple, get me something for pain."

Her niece, who was in the ward with her, asked: "What did you say, Mary?"

That was when Ms Franco realised that she could see again.

Neurosurgeon Dr John Afshar, who conducted the surgery, described the restoration of her vision as "a true miracle."

He suggested that the car accident all those years ago may have affected the artery that supplies blood to the part of the brain that controls vision.

The neck surgery may have unblocked the artery and restored blood flow to the brain, he said.

Ms Franco is ecstatic to be able to see her family again, and even claims that she can see colours now. She told ABC News that she was colourblind before the car accident.

"You're in blue and brown, and your tie is kind of brownish," she said as she described her doctor's outfit.

Despite the restoration of the elderly woman's sight, cataracts in both eyes has impaired her vision.

According to the Singapore National Eye Centre, a cataract forms when the clear lens of the eye becomes cloudy with age. It causes the patient's vision to become blurry.

When her eye doctor suggested an operation for her cataracts, she said: "I've got my eyesight back, I'm not having surgery now."

minlee@sph.com.sg

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