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In a Blink, Her Eye Caught His

Dr. Justin Nathaniel Karlin had never seen anything as dazzling as Carson Molly Stern’s left eye.

In a photo of it, Ms. Stern, a makeup artist in the Los Angeles area, had accentuated her green iris with a dab of silver shimmery eye shadow and rhinestones near her tear duct.

“It was like someone had drizzled a single drop of honey onto a blade of grass,” said Dr. Karlin, 37. An oculoplastic surgeon, he was stunned by the image when he saw it on her Hinge profile in mid-January 2020.

A photo of Ms. Stern’s left eye that caught Dr. Karlin’s attention. 

“My eyes are very green, bright green,” said Ms. Stern, 27, who is pursuing a master’s degree in graphic design at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., and graduated from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

“It’s popular to post a close-up of your eye makeup in the makeup community,” she said.

After they connected, Ms. Stern recalled him messaging, “I’d like to learn more about makeup from you.” She was impressed by his level of curiosity. “What kind of guy says that?”

Messages quickly turned into phone calls that he said “dug deep” into religion, politics and even having children. At the end of January, he enjoyed the throwback of picking her up midweek at her parent’s house in Los Angeles for their first date at Elf Cafe, a vegan restaurant in the city’s Echo Park neighborhood that is now closed.

“I took a moment to stare at her eyes, and I was not disappointed,” Dr. Karlin said. After dinner they took a walk, and paused on Sunset Boulevard for their first kiss. He then invited her over to his place in West Hollywood that Sunday.

Credit…Corbin Gurkin
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When she arrived, Ms. Stern, handy around the house, noticed the lighting there was “too bright, too harsh and too blue,” and they quickly headed to Home Depot to pick up dimmer switches, which they installed in each room within an hour.

“After that it was just date, date, date, date,” he said.

A few weeks later Ms. Stern accompanied him to a Persian-style Shabbat dinner at his parents’ house in Calabasas, Calif.She then began studying Farsi online, and did not shy away from difficult pronunciations such as “khayli khoob” (very good). Ms. Stern also grew adept at anatomical terms for the eye, like tarsal platform show (the area of the eyelid showing underneath the eyelid crease), which she slipped into her instructional YouTube makeup videos.

“Every time I look at an eye I look at it differently because of him,” she said.

In March 2020 they celebrated each other’s birthdays, Ms. Stern’s at a dinner where Dr. Karlin met her parents, and his at a surprise party where she met even more of his family. The day after Dr. Karlin’s birthday party Los Angeles went into pandemic lockdown. As a safety precaution, Ms. Stern’s parents encouraged her to move out of their house for a couple of weeks and stay at his place because he was working at an area hospital.

“It forced us to make a decision to be in the relationship,” he said, “and we said yes to it everyday.”

Dr. Karlin is an assistant professor of ophthalmology and oculoplastic surgery at the Stein and Doheny Eye Institutes at University of California, Los Angeles. He also treats patients at the Skin Cancer and Reconstructive Surgery Center in Newport Beach, Calif., the Doheny Eye Institute in Fountain Valley, Calif., and the Stein Eye Institute in Calabasas. A graduate of University of California, Berkeley, he received a medical degree from Tel Aviv University in Israel.

He proposed on May 13, 2021, at the top of Runyon Canyon, one of many places the two like to go hiking, and a passing hiker took photos.

On Jan. 8, they were married before Rabbi Joel Simonds in a ceremony held by a centuries-old oak tree at Ojai Valley Inn in Ojai, Calif., as the sunset showered everything in shades of pinks and oranges. In attendance were 130 vaccinated guests, who had also tested negative for Covid before the event using kits sent to them by the bride’s parents.

Ms. Stern, who is taking the groom’s name, wore Charlotte Tilbury’s soft pink Pillow Talk eye shadow with a soft brown eyeliner for the occasion. “During the ceremony,” she said, “we stared into each other’s eyes.”

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