Wherever Mehlani goes, people can’t help but notice her big, beautiful eyes. Her mother, Karina Martinez, must constantly stop what she is doing to listen to strangers tell her how beautiful her daughter is. What parent wouldn’t want their child to receive all this positive attention?
Well, when it comes to Mehlani, those big, beautiful eyes are the product of Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome. It is a very rare condition, according to the NIH, that has made her eyes develop differently from most people’s. It’s so rare, Karina had never even heard of it until she was told Mehlani had it.
Her condition makes the iris of her eye appear misshapen. And with her condition comes a high probability of glaucoma, pressure inside the eye that can damage the optic nerve if left untreated – which she does currently have. It also makes Mehlani’s eyes very sensitive to light, and could eventually lead to blindness.
While Karina loves that people think her daughter and her eyes are beautiful, she sometimes wonders if she should tell them why. Usually, she just smiles and thanks everyone for the compliments, even if it makes her feel uncomfortable.
Like most moms, Karina also worries if children will be nice to Mehlani as she gets older. She says some kids are already commenting on how big Mehlani’s eyes are. Most of all, she just wants her little girl to know she is beautiful and loved.
Since her tweets went viral, Karina and Mehlani have received an outpouring of love, and Karina has been contacted by a lot parents who have kids with the same condition. She’s very glad to know that she and Mehlani are not alone!
We (and everyone else) wish all the best for the lovely, little Mehlani!