Two-year-old baby girl adored for her beautiful big black eyes has a rare genetic disorder

Aby Rivas
Nov 21, 2018
06:10 P.M.

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.

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.



Mehlani was diagnosed with Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome during her first week of life.

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.

"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."


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.

“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.


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:


“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!”


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.


“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 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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