PHOTOS What condition do The Last Alaskans Lewis daughters have?

The Last Alaskans Lewis daughters 1

One of the most persistently asked questions about Discovery’s quietest reality show involves the eye condition of The Last Alaskans Lewis daughters. While Ray and Cindy Lewis spent their formative years in the lower 48 (they’re both Michigan natives), their three daughters–Molly (age 23), Emma (21), and Sarah (19)–all grew up in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Unfortunately, it’s because of their unique upbringing and the unusual appearance of their eyes that some of the show’s less-than-tactful viewers wonder if the Lewis daughters are inbred. The truth is both simpler and more obvious: the daughters suffer from a genetic condition called Blepharophimosis, ptosis, epicanthus inversus syndrome (or BPES). Each of the words in the name of the condition describes a different type of abnormal growth of the eye’s opening. Blepharophimosis is a narrowing of the opening; ptosis refers to–per the National Library of Medicine’s Genetics Home Reference page–”droopy eyelids”; and epicanthus inversus is “an upward fold of the skin of the lower eyelid near the inner corner of the eye.”

The Last Alaskans Lewis daughters 3
The Last Alaskans Lewis daughters with Ray and Cindy in a promotional shot from 2016

Cindy Lewis was born with the gene for BPES, and she passed it down to each of her daughters. Additionally, there are two types of BPES; Type I is also believed to be linked to “an early loss of ovarian function.” It’s not known whether Cindy and her daughters carry Type I or Type II BPES, but it is somewhat unusual for all three of Ray and Cindy’s children to have the condition: according to the medical literature, there’s a 50% chance of the genes being passed from parent to child.

Molly Lewis herself responded to some of the more thoughtless and mean-spirited comments about her family in a Last Alaskans Q&A a couple of years ago. Given the circumstances, she was pretty restrained:

Hi, this is Molly Lewis from the show. Thank you to all of you who have posted positive comments in our defense! They’re encouraging and it’s nice to know there’s people out there who get out of the show what’s supposed to be. But to the rest of you on the other side of the discussion — come on, get a life! Honestly I feel sorry for you. Can’t you enjoy the show for what it is? It’s a shame that all you seem to be taking away from it is the subject of our eyes. If it had anything to do with the topic of the show it would be addressed. Everyone has their flaws, ours are just more obvious than others. I’m sorry if it looks weird to some of you, but that’s your problem. Most of you all have “normal” eyes so why does it matter to you so much? Don’t you have anything better to do with your lives than worry about others’? Our mom was was born with the gene ( the only one in her family) and it was passed onto the three of us. It’s the way God chose to make us and we accept it. If you aren’t satisfied with that response than that’s your issuse. I don’t know what else to say.

The Last Alaskans Season 3 airs Wednesday nights on Discovery.

(Photo credits: The Last Alaskans Lewis daughters via Discovery on Facebook)

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  • jeff

    I don’t watch the show, but I know that if I found out I had a 50% chance to pass on a disability to my kid, I wouldn’t have kids. One kid? Sure, we found out we have this gene but we’ll make the best of it… but to roll the dice again, then AGAIN? Come on, that’s just irresponsible. And don’t hide behind ‘God’ saying it was meant to be either, that’s just a red-herring cop-out.

    • Bruja

      I said this same damn thing to my husband just now after reading this article (except I said something about a 50% chance of d!ck bring attached to each forehead) and he said , “they needed more physical laborers“.

      I have a cat that has eyelid conditions. Both top and bottom lids, usually conditions that are either/or. She needs meds constantly. It sucks. Sometimes, she hurts. I can’t imagine purposely subjecting someone/something to a life altering issue like this.

      • Brie Mode

        Better not mate with that cat then. XD

    • twelfthnight

      Is there a line for you, out of curiosity? Are there disabilities you would chance passing down, or are all disabilities out of the question? Are mental disabilities or illnesses different, and to what degree?

      I ask because I previously felt the same way, but my boyfriend has ADHD and tourettes, both of which are genetically passed down (I think the tourettes rate is about 50%) and if we have children together, we will ‘chance’ them inheriting those.

      It was more his call than mine, as he’s the one who lived with it. His general thoughts are that he’s fine, it made things a little tougher or he had to find different ways to do things, but with the right support he’s as normal as anybody else. You wouldn’t know he had either of them now, he’s able to cope with it very well.

      I would not biologically have children if I knew they’d have something that would never allow them to have a normal life, though.

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    • Brie Mode

      I say this about older women popping out crotch fruit. My mom had me at 39. I could’ve had Downs.

      But not so much as that as it’s just selfish. Your nugget is gonna be planning your funeral at 20. Not fair.

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    • Raymond Kobetz

      I’m not a Medical Doctor but If the condition the Lewis girls have is considered a disability it’s obviously not a problem for them or their family. If you watched the show you might realize this, as it is obvious these 3 beautiful young ladies are completely able and extremely happy with themselves and their lives. This in itself is a complete refutation of your stating the gene is a reason to not consider having children. The joy and love that the family has for each other is priceless and in my opinion the only issue all of this causes is made up in your mind. Don’t know if you have children but if you do and still don’t understand this it’s time to rethink your appreciation for life and family. My wife and I have 5 children and they provide more joy in our lives than anything. I applaud the Lewis family for showing how something that may be a made up issue in one person’s mind has no bearing on the reality of family and the love and joy their family produces. God Bless the Lewis Family!!

      • Billy E. Settle

        Amen Raymond.

      • Kristen Pendleton

        I agree Raymond…These girls are beautiful…and the love and respect they show each other..and there parents is beyond!! These girls make it on there own…and can do more then the majority of any of young girls there age!! If I had been able to had a daughter…. I would want her to have the compassion….love … and beauty these young ladies have….and they wouldn’t be who they are if it weren’t for there beautiful Mother and father….more parents need to give there children the upbringing and teaching of life and what is important…being Family!! That’s what the Lewis’ s have …and more!! It sadens me to see these cruel… comments… I feel sorry for the people that made these comments they are obviously miserable with there lives!! If people exampled themselves more after the Lewis’s and how to raise children
        ..this world would be alot happier place!!!

    • Barb

      It was irresponsible for your parents to have you with your defective brain that is to constrained to be able accept people with differences

    • Billy E. Settle

      It’s just as well you feel that way, children should have loving parents not parent’s that would let such a minor thing become such a big deal.

    • Alicia Glennon Herb

      You, my friend are a real Rectal Cavity.

    • Mindy L.

      You are uneducated in this matter.


    Well this is wtf happens when your mom and dad are each other’s siblings, cousins, and aunt and uncle all at the same time ?

    • Yo mammy!

      Damn you ugly bih! Ugly to the bone bih!

    • tony

      you’re sick.

  • Guest

    Breeding when you knowingly have a genetic condition is so damn selfish.

  • Mike Hicks

    Are any of you God!! I dont think any of you have any right to say anything about what the Mom did. Can you read there is a chance can pass it down. And it does not hurt them at all. So these young women have eye’s that are a bit different then yours wow that’s so bad. These girls don’t have a problem with it so why do you. Clean you’re own back yard out before talking about someone else. Remember God don’t like ugly. I love the show and that family I wish they stay on the show one of my favorite family…

  • YourMom

    The defect doesnt seem to cause anykind of serious disability. They just have a unique features. Mom had every right to have her children. She knew her children can grow up to have normal lives independently whether they have the gene or not. People tend to dislike it when the “norm” is changed. Remember “Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos to the fly.”-Charles Addams

  • Larry Cline

    Im disgusted at the people with mean spirited comments. I don’t see the issue except for the terrible people making bad comments. I will watch the show hoping the family is still on it. It would be great to meet them. I’m a big fan of theirs and others on the show.

  • Cissy Hickey

    What is wrong with people? The Lewis girls are beautiful, intelligent young girls who work hard with their parents and enjoy life to the fullest. There was no reason for their parents not to have children just because they have this eye condition. It doesn’t affect them mentally or physically from living a wonderful life. I’m like Molly if that’s all you can see in this show then you need to watch something else. You go ladies, I think you are beautiful and I enjoy you on the show!!!!!!!

    • Diana Campbell Dupree

      Does this disease affect their eyesight?

      • Anthony

        It’s not a disease. It’s a genetic condition.

    • Cheryl

      I agree. What’s wrong with people? I hate to see you leave the show because you have such a beautiful family. Your love for each other and the world around you is so touching and is a wonderful example for others. Good luck in the future. I wish you well.

  • Slapaho_Injun

    Lewis family are fun to watch. As a father to a child with a birth defect, I think your girls are all beautiful kids. Don’t pay any attention to these idiots being so rude. Hope you are all well and enjoying the life you want.

  • Alan1976

    Well, well, well. I guess there were some really rude comments about the Lewis daughters, but it’s only natural for people to me curious about their eyes, since both parents don’t look like them. I myself thought it was a genetic defect or perhaps the three were adopted, until I learned more. So, this article clears it all up. They seem to be wonderful kids and a very nice family. I hope no one was too mean.

  • Charlotte Sutton Hunt

    I love this family…. such sweet girls. Great response Molly.

  • TrueScot66

    Well said Molly, you go girl. There will always be trolls, forgive them and their jealous ways. Jealousy is a nasty dis~ease within and rears its ugly head now and again to show the carriers true colours. I love the show and love seeing you, your family and the other families living your lives as you so wish. If these fools below could do half what you guys do up there, then they still wouldn’t be in the same class as you, fact. They should hang their heads with shame, while you guys can hold your heads high. Wishing you all the best for the future and be safe always.

  • john

    jeff, you’re going to deny life to three beautiful people because their eyes look different than yours? God did make these 3 beautiful girls, you are like that mean thoughtless kid that makes fun of another kid because they’re fat, get a life.

  • purplelynn

    I don’t remember hearing about that early on, perhaps if it was explained early in the show it would have prevented alot of cruelty and comments.

  • TourqouisGypsy

    They aren’t flaws. They’re beautiful young ladies. Everything is exactly as it is meant to be for each person. They seem to have beautiful hearts and souls. Namaste ‘

  • Dean C.

    Some people just love to see the negative in everything. I have seen some people calling the condition the Lewis girls have a disease . ITS NOT A DISEASE. It’s a genetic condition. Just because it’s visiable some people will question it and make negative comments.
    I myself have a genetic condition that wasn’t discovered until it almost killed me at age 48. There are no visible signs even so , I have had comments from some idiots about ‘should you have had kids , if you have this condition’. Duhhh we had our kids when we were 30 , condition discovered when I was 48. Get a life sigh.

    Anyway , hope the Lewis family don’t take the idiots comments to heart and leave the show. I gave only recently discovered the show and am thoroughly enjoying it, in my warm house ?

  • tony

    The girls are beautiful, I watch the show because it’s very interesting. Love to learn how they survive,

  • tony

    When are your family coming back on the show, hope to see you soon, miss all of you.??

  • David

    Love the Lewises hope you all come back I watch the show hoping your family is on your dad and mom are awesome and you girls are the best kids ever, hope you all find your dreams and then return to Alaska lol much love and respect !!! Would love to hang with your pop sometime around the fire pit ,,,

  • tina

    These parents are so irresponsible for knowing that they would be bringing maimed children into the world. what the hell is wrong with them, they should not of had children. thank god they only made this horrific act three times.

  • carol

    It’s nobody’s damn business stop being so stupid and enjoy the program and quit being so damn critical this is what is wrong with our country instead of minding your business you got to stick your nose into stuff that doesn’t pertain to you my thinking is good Lord made him that way because they were perfect

  • Rach

    Come on. Call a spade a spade. They aren’t beautiful by traditional standards so stop saying that. It’s like telling a very fat person they aren’t fat. It’s rude. With that said while I think it’s ok that people are curious about their condition it is really unfortunate that people think it’s ok say hurtful things. Aside from curiosity about the condition in a perfect society their appearance should be irrelevant.


    Beautiful Family

  • Dave sinclair

    In my eyes, the Lewis ladies are perfect!

  • tony

    The girls are beautiful, going to miss the Lewis on TV. Some people are just plain nasty, pay no attention to them. Please come back.

  • This might hurt…

    I find it absolutely idiotic in this day and age of available information for people to make such ridiculous, insensitive, uneducated comments (Usually Negative) about others and any condition they may be affected by.
    The only thing I can think of is that the ones making stupid comments probably do so because of their own shortcomings and deficiencies and I consider your lack of education a deficiency.