A 70-year-old woman in Florida — who has been blind for over 20 years — has regained her sight after falling over and hitting her head at her home, baffling her neurosurgeon who says it is a “true miracle”. Mary Ann Franco gradually became blind after injuring her spine in a car accident in 1993.

Then — more than two decades later — another accident and a subsequent operation appears to have led to the recovery of her sight, although doctors are still trying to work out how exactly this could have happened.

“I was fully blind. All I could see was blackness,” she told The Independent. “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.

After the fall which took place in August 2015 — she was incapacitated and had to wear a neck brace until an operation a few weeks ago. She was in hospital recovering from four hours of surgery on her neck when she came round from the anaesthetic and realised her sight had returned.

However, in her confused state, she did not realise what had happened straight away. “They gave me more medication and the next morning I could see all the trees and white houses below from my small window on my side in hospital,” she said. Neurosurgeon Dr John Afshar, who performed the operation, told ABC News that he had not expected Franco’s vision to be affected.

“The restoration of Mary Ann Franco’s vision is a true miracle,” he said. “I really don’t have a scientific explanation for it.” He said that one theory for the exceptional story was that the accident could have affected an artery and restricted blood flow to the part of the brain which controls vision.

“It could have been a result of the artery being kinked and then when we performed the surgery itself, we unknowingly probably unkinked that vessel re-establishing blood flow and, therefore, she could have regained her vision,” he said. Franco is a firm believer in God and attributes the extraordinary return of her sight to her faith.

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She spoke of how happy she was to be able to  see her family once again and added that regaining her sight had changed how she thought of the world. “Everything seems so much smaller to me, since I can see. I felt like the room was bigger than it was…but they weren’t as big as I thought,” she said.

“My sight is great now, although I went to the eye doctor and he said I had to have cataracts [operations] on both eyes. But I said no — I’ve got my eyesight back. I’m not having surgery now.”