A TERRIFYING battle against blindness is being fought on screen and off the set of MacGyver.
Actor Dana scar, who plays MacGyver’s boss, Pete Thornton, has been trying to hide his eye disorder for years — but it’s so bad now that producers have had to include it in the story-line.
“I have glaucoma and I let it go too long,” Elcar admits.
A show source says” “It’s sad. Dana doesn’t recognize you if you’re more than a few feet from him. He has to hear you speak first. He can’t even drive anymore. But he wants to keep working.
“Glaucoma, which puts pressure on the eye and causes blindness if left untreated, has caused severe damage to Elcar’s eyes. He has nearly lost his peripheral vision.
“Doing the special episode was, in a sense, the best thing that could have happened to me” says Elcar, who refuses to say how old he is. “With this sort of disease, you don’t want to admit it’s happening to you. This show helped me to accept what’s very likely to be the next phase of my life, as a visually impaired person.”
Shooting the episode in which Elcar’s disease is first exposed, so upset MacGyver’s star, Richard Dean Anderson, he had to leave the set more than once. “He kind of lost it,” says executive producer Steve Downing.
Says the show source” “Elcar will remain with MacGyver, but his role could change.” Future episodes this season will show Elcar’s character using eye drops or having problems seeing.
“It reached the point where it couldn’t be covered up any longer,” explains Downing, “so we decided to show what he’s been going through”
According to Rebecca Manning, a spokeswoman for the series, Elcar hopes to reach other potential glaucoma victims. “Dana knows adults over 40 should get annual eye exams” says Manning, “and he knows the disease can be treated if it’s diagnosed early. He hopes his situation will inspire people to be tested, so they can be treated before it’s too late. Dana knows if he had been more aware of the testing, his own problems could have been avoided”
Manning says Elcar had one other reason for accepting the story-line” “It was important to Dana to prove to himself that he could continue being an actor, even while dealing with his condition.”
Unknown Source, 1991.