A FREAK ACCIDENT left songbird Janet Jackson blind for a month — but, incredibly, the tragic mishap helped her see clearly for the first time that she had to leave her unhappy marriage!

The 35-year-old star was on tour in Lyon, France, when a playful dog scratched one of her corneas and she accidentally cut the other with a magazine. Soon, even the dimmest light was agony to her eyes. She was treated in a hospital and her condition was serious.

“Janet was in excruciating pain,” a friend told The ENQUIRER. “Her eyelids swelled up to the size of golf balls and light made things even worse. She was almost completely blind for a month.”

Janet had heard rumors that her husband, Rene Elizondo Jr., was cheating on her, but had tried to deny them. The eye injuries in 1998 changed all that, sources say.

“Janet was literally BLIND and Rene basically ignored her,” a close family friend told The ENQUIRER.

“He was worried about other things while Janet was lying in bed in agonizing pain. That was devastating for Janet. How could he not care about her at all?!”

Her blindness forced Janet to see for the first time what her 8-year marriage had become.

“Losing my sight helped open my eyes,” the singer later confided to a friend. “It made me aware of the lie I was living with Rene.”

Janet has her nose and right nipple pierced.

Lying in her sickbed, the sexy superstar vowed to take control of her life. She made the decision to leave Rene and go it alone. When her eyes healed and she returned home from the tour, she ended things with Rene.

“Janet believes that Rene used her to get ahead in life,” the family friend says. “He took her for a huge amount of money and never gave her the respect she deserved. She’d always believed that a woman should stand by her man no matter what. Her breakthrough was admitting that you have to be true to yourself first.”

Since that fateful awakening, Janet has been a changed woman, sources say. She has thrown herself into her work and is becoming emotionally strong for the first time in her life.

“Rene is about to get $10 million in a divorce settlement — all they have to do is make it final,” the family friend said. “She didn’t want to give him anything, but it’s a small price to pay to be rid of him. Now no one can pull the wool over her eyes anymore.”