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MacGyver's TV Boss Fights For His Sight

As MacGyver costar Dana Elcar continues to battle vision loss due to glaucoma, his character on the ABC series, Peter Thornton, will also fight for his sight. So says MacGyver producer Steve Downing, who reveals that the recent episode in which MacGyver's boss was stricken with partial blindness marks the first chapter in an ongoing story. "Dana doesn't know whether he's going to get better or worse," says Downing, "so that's the way we'll leave his character at the last episode of the season.

Thornton will go through a surgical procedure for glaucoma. If Dana improves during hiatus, Thornton will improve; if he doesn't, Thornton won't." Elcar has had glaucoma for years, but the vision loss, he says, "came on quite severely" within the past several months. He no longer drives, he has difficulty reading and he has a helper come to the set with him nowadays. "The crew has made it easy," Elcar notes. "Everyone has become my eyes, taking me to my mark." Elcar says the series' writers have used experiences out of his own life (trying to find a pill dropped on a white floor, for instance), "and there's been an effort to coincide my actual treatment experiences with Thornton's." In his own case, "Everything that can be done is being done." But, he admits, "You don't win 100 percent of the time." The actor says that the eye surgery he underwent a few months ago has proved, so far, to be less effective than he'd hoped.

TV Guide, March 16, 1991.