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Toddler's 'Disney princess eyes' due to rare genetic condition

Little girl’s real life Disney eyes can be attributed to a rare genetic condition (Photo via Twitter)

Mehlani Martinez is going viral for her larger-than-life eyes, but her Disney princess-esque look is actually because of a rare genetic disorder.

Mehlani’s mom, Karina, recently tweeted about how the first thing people comment on when they see her nearly two-year-old daughter is always her large eyes.


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Every time we’re 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,” she said. “I decide no, smile and say thank you. I’m always left with a weird feeling. I just pray she’ll always know how beautiful she is.”

The toddler has Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome, a condition which affects the development of the eyes. Primarily impacting the cornea and iris, the syndrome can make eyes seem misshapen. Sometimes extra holes can occur, making it look like there’s more than one pupil.

Martinez worries that her daughter’s appearance will impact how she’s treated when she begins school.


I get so nervous thinking about her starting school. 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?” she wrote. “It makes me want to cry thinking about it because she’s so strong and sweet and been through so much already.”

But she says she’s quick to tell her daughter how wonderful she really is.


She’s so precious inside and out, with a heart of gold,” wrote Martinez. 

A number of people living with the rare genetic syndrome also have glaucoma, which means that, if left untreated, they are at risk of a damaged optic nerve, which can sometimes lead to blindness. Surgery helps prevent impaired vision.

While the almost-two-year-old has glaucoma, her vision is fine otherwise.

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Martinez said her family is proactive when it comes to preventing damage. Whenever the little girl is outside, she sports pink sunglasses — which also helps with her sensitivity to light.

Martinez has received an overwhelming amount of support from parents online, some whose children also have the same condition.


Martinez is hopeful her own reminders of love will raise her daughter to be confident no matter how others treat her.

“I’ll just remind her — I already do — how beautiful she is,” she told Buzzfeed News.

“I’ll just tell her God made her that way for a reason. Everybody has something that makes them different.”

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