Living with Glaucoma: Tonian McDonald’s Personal Story

Tonian McDonald speaking at an event

Tonian strives to be a face for change and spread awareness of glaucoma in her country of Jamaica, and around the world.

In 2016 while completing my law degree in Jamaica, I had a unique and strange headache. The pain was on and off, but the headache seemed to center around my eyes. As a busy student, I chose to ignore it.

One week later, I visited my ophthalmologist, Carmen Wilson, MD for a regular eye exam. After several tests, she said “You have glaucoma.”

I was only 22. While my diagnosis was a complete shock to me, it was not surprising to my family as my grandfather also has glaucoma. I was incredibly upset and afraid that my entire life was going to change. I didn’t know anything about glaucoma, what it is or what causes it. I had so many questions about my future:

Can I finish my law degree? Will I have a legal career? What is going to happen now? Will I go blind?

It was not easy at first.

My treatment began immediately with eye drops, and with proper diet and exercise, my eye pressure has stabilized. In addition, I am grateful to have not lost any peripheral vision. In some ways, I am also thankful for glaucoma, as the disease has actually given me a purpose.

I have completed my bachelor’s degree in law, received a scholarship to complete my Master of Business Administration in London, and wrote a book about glaucoma and healthy eating.

Today, and every day I am living with glaucoma, a life filled with joy, happiness and love, I can do anything I want; my reason for living but not just living, SEEING became more significant than my prognosis.

Although Jamaica does not have much support for glaucoma, I strive to be a face for change and spread awareness of glaucoma in my country and around the world.

Everyone is at risk for glaucoma; some have glaucoma at a young age, while others are diagnosed later in life. Some, sadly, will never know until it is too late.

Sight is critical and my glaucoma diagnosis was my wake-up call.


Posted on March 16, 2018; Last reviewed June 28, 2024.

Tonian C. McDonald

Tonian C. McDonald

Tonian C. McDonald is an LLB graduate, author, MBA student, and glaucoma advocate, and founder, Living With Glaucoma Jamaica Foundation.