'The earlier it's diagnosed, the better' - Celeb photographer on why he joined campaign
As one of Ireland's top celebrity photographers, Barry McCall is the go-to snapper for A-list stars like Saoirse Ronan and Hozier.
But concern over changes to his eyesight prompted him to get involved in a new campaign which aims to highlight the prevalence of age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
A disease which affects 100,000 people aged over 50 in Ireland, it's the leading cause of sight loss in this country but early diagnosis can stop the disease in its tracks.
McCall has now given his support for the See the Whole Picture campaign by photographing four people with AMD, with the portraits showing how those living with the condition have black spots in their central vision.
"This was the first year that my eyes started to hiccup a little," he told independent.ie.
"I was talking to the optician and he said, you put an awful lot of strain on your eyes with computers so it just made me aware, so it was there in the back of my brain when I was asked to get involved in the project.
"I don't have AMD but I can really appreciate what can happen to people when it kicks in and the whole idea of this is, get the early checks to stop these crazy black dots appearing in the middle of your vision. The earlier it's diagnosed, the better."
He asked those involved in the campaign to bring along something that they loved to look at every day, with the choices ranging from a favourite book to an iPad, with one man bringing along his wife.
Run in conjunction with AMD awareness week, among those photographed by McCall were avid reader Margaret Duffy (83).
It was seven years ago at the age of 75 that avid reader Margery Duffy first realised that her vision was starting to become a little blurry.
A routine eye-test diagnosed her with (AMD) but for Margery, the news was positive. Her condition had been spotted early and as a result of monthly anti-VEGF injections into her eyes, she has managed to completely
stabilise her vision.
The Dundrum pensioner said how early detection "saved my sight" and as a result, she can still drive and is a regular member of her book club.
"I couldn't imagine not being able to pick up a novel and escape into its story," she said.
The launch at the National Gallery of Irelan this week was also attended by Junior Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor, who revealed that a close relative of hers lost their sight a few years ago.
She said that she has first-hand experience of how traumatic it can be when that happens to someone that you care about.
This week will see the Novartis AMD mobile units going around the country carrying out free eye tests until Saturday, September 30.