Little girl’s “beautiful” eyes are actually caused by a rare genetic condition

Mehlani Martinez

US mum recently Karina Martinez shared a photo of her adorable two-year-old daughter Mehlani on Twitter, admitting she was often conflicted when people complimented her toddler’s beautiful, big eyes.

“Big and beautiful”

In the now-viral tweet, she explained that it was hard to know whether to explain her daughter’s associated health condition or simply accept the kindness with grace.

“Every time were out and a stranger compliments on how big and beautiful her eyes are, I have a mental debate on whether or not I should mention her defect,” Karina posted on Twitter. “I decide ‘no’, smile and say ‘thank you’. I’m always left with a weird feeling.”

Mehlani has Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome, a rare eye condition that affects the development of the eyes. She also has glaucoma. 

Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome affects the cornea and the iris, while glaucoma can damage the eye’s optic nerves and result in blindness from increased eye pressure, as well make eyes appear larger,” The Independent reports.

“I get so nervous”

Mehlani underwent surgery to help treat her condition when she was just five-months-old, reducing the pressure her eyes were under and avoid damage to her optic nerves. Karina says it’s not yet known if her vision will be further affected or impaired as she gets older.

“Living with these conditions requires us to take her to regular check-ups to make sure her eye pressure is being kept down. If it rises again, it would cause more damage to her optic nerves,” Karina told The Independent.


  Read more about family health:


Aside from potential health issues in the future, she worries that Mehlani’s very big eyes will attract unwanted attention from other kids, and possibly lead to bullying.

“I get so nervous thinking about her starting school,” she admitted. “What if other kids are mean about her eyes and she gets made fun of? What if she starts to hate her unique gorgeous eyes?”

“It makes me want to cry thinking about it because she’s so strong and sweet and [has] been through so much already.”

Cute kid syndrome

Twitter followers were keen to support this family – and wax lyrical about their little girl.

“Looks like cute kid syndrome to me. Doing great mom!” one posted.

“She’s just perfect mama. She’s gorgeous. She’s a strong little gal and she’s lucky to have you as her mommy. Just perfect,” another wrote.

“She is the most precious little human I’ve ever seen!”

Karina hopes those in a position to help might donate to the Childrens’ Glaucoma Foundation to fund research into conditions like the one Mehlani has.

Subscribe to Babyology

Our email newsletters keep you up to date with what’s happening on Babyology.

We also have special newsletter-only offers and competitions that are exclusive to Babyology subscribers.

Sign up below:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Send this to a friend