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Little Girl's Rare Genetic Disorder Gives Her Doll-Like Eyes

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Even though we all love receiving compliments, plenty of people believe one of the most flattering things someone can say about them is having beautiful eyes.

It's not uncommon that some people put on contact lenses to have a more desirable eye color or make them appear much wider than they actually are.

However, one toddler was born with enormous doll-like eyes, and while beautiful, it comes with serious health concerns.

"I'd never heard of anybody being born with it though."

At only a week old, Mehlani Martinez was diagnosed with Axenfeld-Gieger syndrome, a rare genetic condition affecting every one out 200,000 infants.

The condition, which could someday blind her, causes under-developed irises, which allows the pupil to take over the majority of her eyes.

Some children with Axenfeld-Gieger syndrome either have an off-center pupil or multiple pupils. Like Mehlani, nearly half of them have glaucoma.

Her mother Karina Martinez told Daily Mail that she and her daughter's father had never heard of this syndrome before, and while they knew about glaucoma, believed it only targeted the elderly.

"I'd never heard of anybody being born with it though," she told the publication.

The nearly two-year-old has already had surgery for her condition.

At only five months old, Mehlani she had artificial drainage canals added to her eyes to block the build up of fluid and pressure, which would otherwise aggravate her glaucoma. Without the operation, her optic nerves could have become damaged beyond repair.

"I just pray she’ll always know how beautiful she is."

Mehlani's irregular pupils make her sensitive to light, so every time the youngster steps out of her Minnesota home, she must be wearing sunglasses.

But when they're off, strangers can't help Karina and comment on her daughter's eyes.

"Every time we're  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."

Karina added to her tweet that she's worried that as Mehlani grows older, her peers won't understand her condition.

"I get so nervous thinking about her starting school. What if other kids are mean about her eyes & 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 & sweet & been through so much already," she said.

"You’re a wonderful mother."

But her message, which has gained more than 176,000 likes and  37,000 retweets, has received thousands of positive responses.

"Oh my heart  sweet, precious, beautiful child. You’re a wonderful mother. She is sure to know how beautiful she is every day and you are with her to ensure she is strong in herself," one Twitter user commented.

"I scrolled past and thought 'wow what a gorgeous little girl so jealous of her beautiful big eyes' then read your post! People are always going to be mean whatever the case.. but in her case I truly believe the compliments will overwhelm you! She’s ridiculously beautiful!" another chimed in.

Karina said that about 40 people have contacted her to share their stories about either themselves or a family member who also has  Axenfeld-Gieger syndrome.

"It's reallly [sic] 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," the mother-of-two 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."

[H/T: Daily Mail]

Have you ever heard of this condition before? Let us know in the comments!

Maya has been working at Shared for a year. She just begrudgingly spent $200 on a gym membership. Contact her at maya@shared.com