Two-year-old baby girl adored for her beautiful big black eyes has a rare genetic disorder
Mehlani Dickerson often gets compliments from strangers for her big, beautiful, black eyes. Every time that happens, her mother struggles not to blurt out her daughter has a genetic condition that makes them look that way, and that could cause Mehlani to lose her vision.
Karina Ortega, the proud mom of 2-year-old Mehlani, recently took to Twitter to share a series of pics of her beautiful toddler, revealing the genetic disease that makes her child’s eyes look the way they do.
She makes my heart melt. Hearing her tell me she loves me makes it all worth it 😭♥️ pic.twitter.com/nejjxyaZJR— virgo ☼ mami (@karinaa_ortega) November 1, 2018
And while for some people the look could be “adorable” because Mehlani resembles a Disney Princess, the truth behind the condition is harsher than that.
THE EARLY DIAGNOSE
Mehlani was diagnosed with Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome during her first week of life.
For the people wondering what her defect is: she has axenfeld rieger anomaly syndrome & Glaucoma— virgo ☼ mami (@karinaa_ortega) September 14, 2018
The rare condition mostly affects vision but could also cause distinctive physical features on children who have it, like a flat middle face, wide and flat nose, small teeth and separated eyes. Since it affects the development of the cornea, the eye doesn’t have a defined iris, so the pupil takes most of the eye, which makes it look all black.
The toddler was also diagnosed with glaucoma, a condition that causes loss of eyesight as a result of a build-up of pressure in the space at the front of the eye, causing damage to the optical nerve.
While glaucoma is often diagnosed in late childhood or early teenage years, Mehlani’s early diagnosed allowed her to have surgery at 5-months-old, getting artificial drainage canals that keep the eye pressure leveled.
As of now, she still conserves her ability to see. But her parents are not sure what will happen in the future for her.
Happy 2nd birthday to the one who taught us how to love unconditionally. Our smart, beautiful, and sweet first born! Mommy & Daddy adore you, Mehlani Alexia! 💞🎈 pic.twitter.com/01PvGLFJq3— virgo ☼ mami (@karinaa_ortega) October 12, 2018
"That's what I was concerned with, if she was even going to be able to play outside, but it's nice knowing she'll still be able to live a healthy, normal life."
THE TWEET THAT WENT VIRAL
Wanting to raise awareness about the disease, Karina shared a beautiful photo on Twitter of the girl staring directly at the camera with an infectious smile and her gorgeous eyes. While most people considered that the girl looked pretty, the message her mother wrote was the highlight of the post.
In it, Karina set clear that when they were out, and a stranger complimented Mehlani’s eyes, she had a mental debate on whether mentioning her congenital disability.
Everytime were out & a stranger compliments on how big & beautiful her eyes are, I have a mental debate on whether or not I should mention her defect. I decide no, smile & say thank you. I’m always left with a weird feeling. I just pray she’ll always know how beautiful she is. pic.twitter.com/JUJyGkLbDe— virgo ☼ mami (@karinaa_ortega) September 13, 2018
“I decide no, smile & say thank you. I’m always left with a weird feeling. I just pray she’ll always know how beautiful she is,” added Karina in the tweet that quickly went viral.
After getting such an overwhelming response to her daughter’s picture, Karina took the chance to express her fears about the toddler’s future, especially when the time comes for her to enter school.
Shes so precious inside & out, with a heart of gold 💖 pic.twitter.com/mjIypBWdH1— virgo ☼ mami (@karinaa_ortega) September 13, 2018
The doting mom is afraid that other children would make fun of her daughter’s condition and she starts hating her “unique, gorgeous eyes.”
On an interview with Unilad, Karina revealed that the only reason she shared those tweets was that she wanted to raise awareness about the condition. She said:
So strong. In just 5 months of life she’d gone through so much. pic.twitter.com/UnuNa1IJJr— virgo ☼ mami (@karinaa_ortega) September 13, 2018
“I always really wanted to raise awareness about her condition, they are so unrecognized, and so I’m really happy that out of everything I tweet, my daughter was the one to go viral! I hope now there will be more donations to the cause and it will be more talked about!”
THERE'S HOPE AFTER ALL
She also revealed to Daily Mail that at least 40 people had contacted her on Twitter, from parents with children that have the same syndrome, to adults that grew up with it.
Im seriously overwhelmed with all of the love my princess is getting ♥️ you guys are literally making me tear up! Since everyone’s being so sweet I thought I’d share some of my favorite pics of my beautiful! pic.twitter.com/gu4hqQFYBw— virgo ☼ mami (@karinaa_ortega) September 14, 2018
“It's really nice when adults message me and say that they grew up with this and they were still able to follow their dreams and do everything that other kids get to do,” Karina said. “That's what I was concerned with, if she was even going to be able to play outside, but it's nice knowing she'll still be able to live a healthy, normal life.”
Mehlani wants to say thank you to everyone for their kind sweet words! She has no idea what Twitter is but I told her everyone loves her & thinks she’s beautiful 💖 pic.twitter.com/ZEzbo1ZJBn— virgo ☼ mami (@karinaa_ortega) September 14, 2018
OTHER CHILDREN WITH “FAMOUS” EYES
Mehlani is not the only child who went viral due to her eyes. When the pictures of twins Megan and Morgan Boyd hit the internet, people couldn’t stop gushing about them, but for a different reason.
The twins caught worldwide attention for their unique combination of dark skin and bright blue eyes. Megan has both eyes blue, while Morgan has one blue and one dark brown, an even rarer combination.
The condition, although uncommon, is not unique; it’s called heterochromia.
As they grew up, the twins started to develop an interest for the camera and flashes, always ready to strike a pose in family reunions and not to show an ounce of shyness in front of the lens. The girls have a bright future ahead, especially if they keep modeling.
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