A first-time mum has revealed the heartbreak of not being able to see her newborn baby for three months – after falling pregnant turned her BLIND.
Diabetes sufferer Leah Fisher, 26, had perfect vision before conceiving but was left with “eyes like a 90-year-old” by the time Archie was born.
Her condition combined with an imbalance in her hormones meant that as her due date loomed her sight deteriorated until everything was black.
The probation worker was forced to give birth by C-section two months early so she could start steroid treatment in the hope of saving a slither of her vision.
Tragically, it meant that for the first days of Archie’s life Leah was unable to look him in the eye or help with normal tasks like changing his nappy.
The new mum yesterday told of the devastation of missing out on the precious moments most parents get to enjoy.
But she revealed that after six surgeries she has miraculously regained some of her sight – and will be able to see her little boy, who is now 18-months-old, grow up.
Leah, of Southend, Essex, said: “I never thought having a baby would make my blind.
“Looking back I feel as though I have missed out on so much and that breaks my heart.
“When I was pregnant I didn’t get to go and buy Archie any clothes or anything like that because I was so depressed because my eyes were horrendous.
“When I went in for the C-section I wasn’t excited – I just wanted him out. There was a little bit of resentment – I was thinking, ‘He is doing this to me.’
“After he was born it was devastating not being able to see Archie properly and I was heartbroken by the thought that I wouldn’t get to watch him grow up.
“The doctors said they didn’t know if the treatment would work, but I have had six laser surgeries since then and there has been a massive improvement.
“I still wear glasses and I can’t see in the dark, but it’s a miracle I can see at all. It’s just amazing to be able to look at my baby’s face. No one can believe it.”
Doctors believe that Leah’s failing eyesight is linked to the fact she has type one diabetes and that, in her teens, she neglected her treatment.
She was diagnosed with the illness aged 14 after she began losing weight rapidly, suffering severe dehydration and feeling dizzy and tired constantly.
In the years that followed she was lax with the jabs she was supposed to take six times a day because she wanted to be “normal” and drink with her friends.
Doctors warned that her carelessness could lead to complications later in life, including nerve damage and potential problems with her eyes.
But it wasn’t until she was in her early twenties that she met fiance Iain Francis, 37, and her priorities shifted.
When the lovebirds moved in together Leah began to take her injections properly and her blood sugar level balanced out and then, in May 2015, she fell pregnant.
Leah, who is studying for criminology degree, said: “When we found out were were so excited. It was a huge shock but it was brilliant.
“We didn’t even think about the possibility of complications it was just, ‘We need to get the room ready,’ and things like that.”
But after a couple of weeks, Leah’s eyesight began to deteriorate as new blood vessels grew in her eyes and began leaking.
She said: “Before I fell pregnant I wore glasses for driving but my vision was pretty much perfect.
“I knew having a baby could bring some problems with eyesight but within a few weeks it was horrific.
“I was driving along and thinking, ‘My glasses need adjusting,’ but as the days went by the world got blurrier and darker.
“When I had a routine check-up in July they referred me straight to the hospital. I couldn’t even see the TV screen by this point.
“They said I had developed damage to the retina through high blood sugars, swelling inside the eye and thick cataracts like a 90-year-old would have.”
When Archie was born via C-section on November 24, 2015, Leah was wheeled around to see him – but for she could barely make out his features.
She said: “The first few months were hard. I wasn’t able to do anything. I couldn’t see to change his nappies or bathe him.
“Every day I would get more and more frustrated, crying and having break downs.”
Under the care of eye doctors she had six rounds of laser eye surgery to seal off the blood vessels and surgery to remove cataracts.
With every round of treatment, her vision improved until, incredibly, she regained 20/20 vision – something medics thought might never happen.
The couple are now looking into adoption and surrogacy because they want another child but if Leah falls pregnant, the same thing might happen again.
But Leah said it’s a “miracle” she can see at all.
She added: “The experts believe that the problems were down to the fact I didn’t look after myself properly when I was in my teens.
“I never thought I would be punished for what I did when I was a kid. It’s my biggest regret ever.
“But about three months into the treatment I could see clearly again, which was incredible.
“I just feel so lucky that I can watch Archie grow up.”
Consultant ophthalmologist and retinal surgeon Aman Chandra treated Leah at Southend Hospital, Essex.
He said: “Loss of eyesight particularly affects people if their control of diabetes has been poor prior to pregnancy.
“It affects the blood vessels in the body and causes them to bleed and leak, which results in patients not being able to see.
“When Leah came to us in late 2015 she was essentially blind. Her eyesight was bad enough for her to be registered blind, or severely visually impaired.
“When we saw her a year and a half later, she had 20/20 vision.
“She had quite a remarkable turnaround.”