This Girl’s Beautiful Big Eyes Are Due To A Rare Genetic Syndrome

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Mehlani has a very rare genetic condition known as Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome.

Strangers are always commenting on her big eyes.

When chatting with her Mother, strangers often compliment Mehlani’s big, beautiful eyes.

But what those people don’t know, is that Mehlani has Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome — a rare condition that affects the development of the eyes.

Martinez told BuzzFeed News recently that Mehlani was diagnosed when she was a week old.

I had never heard of it until it happened to us,” said Martinez.

Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome affects the cornea as well as the iris, so the eyes have a different appearance than most other people’s.

The iris, which is the colored part of the eye, appears smaller. Extra holes in the iris can also occur that make it look like there’s more than one pupil, or the pupil may be off-center.

About half of those with the syndrome also have glaucoma. Glaucoma is internal pressure inside the eye that can damage the optic nerve if it’s not treated. It can make a child’s eyes appear larger than other kids, and over time, it can eventually lead to impaired vision and blindness (although surgery can help prevent this).

Mehlani also has glaucoma, although so far her vision is fine.

Martinez said that they don’t yet know what’s in her future, but at the moment, she has to wear sunglasses outside because glaucoma can also make your eyes sensitive to light.

But the situation isn’t only medical. Martinez has also had to deal with the comments she gets from total strangers. The Mother recently shared those in a series of tweets that have since gone viral.

“I’m always left with a weird feeling. I just pray she’ll always know how beautiful she is,” she wrote.

The Mother also worries about how other children will treat Mehlani once she’s old enough to start school.

Maybe kids will call her mean names,” said Martinez. “There are kids that she’s played with who’ve mentioned, ‘Oh my gosh, mom, her eyes are so big.'”

Images: Karina Martinez

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