Little Leah's gift of sight

AS she sits on her mum's lap bouncing around and looking intently at the camera, it is hard to believe that three-month-old Leah Calthorpe-Betts was born blind.

AS she sits on her mum's lap bouncing around and looking intently at the camera, it is hard to believe that three-month-old Leah Calthorpe-Betts was born blind.

Today, following pioneering surgery to remove cataracts from her eyes, Leah is able to see her mum and dad's faces for the first time and play with her favourite toys like any other child.

Leah was diagnosed with cataracts in November when she was just one-day-old and following extensive tests her parents were told she would need urgent surgery or she could permanently lose her sight.

Her mum, Cathy Calthorpe, 22, of Woodville Road, Ipswich, said: “When I was feeding her just after she'd been born I looked at her eyes and noticed all these white spots.

“I knew then that something wasn't right and they took her to the eye clinic for tests the next day.”

The news was not a complete surprise to her family, as her dad Chris Betts, uncle and granddad have all suffered from the condition.

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What was more surprising for the family was the speed at which the surgeons needed to move.

Miss Calthorpe said: “Chris's brother has got a baby girl with cataracts but she did not have to have an operation until she was one.

“So when they said Leah would need an operation when she was two months I was really surprised.

“They told us that if they did not operate by the time she was three months old she could be permanently blind.”

Leah underwent her first operation on January 2 at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridgeshire and had the other eye done three weeks later.

In each case the surgery took an hour and a half, with doctors removing her damaged lenses and replacing them with flexible plastic ones.

Mr Betts, 28, said: “We were very worried when she went in for the surgery but we knew what the alternative would be so we did not really have a choice.

“Hearing that the operation had been a success was the best news I've ever had and I was amazed at the scientific advances since I had the procedure as a teenager.

“Now she's seeing at her favourite toys for the first time and is always laughing and giggling.”

Miss Calthorpe said: “It has made the world of difference to her.

“Now she will look at us and smile and laugh. She'll sit there and play with her toys, whereas she could not do anything before.”

The couple also have a two-year-old son Ben who has had no problems with his eyesight.

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