Overton Photographic Club

For the sake of your eyes…

… every photographer needs to read this!

by Amanda Hepburn

Imagine the sensor in your digital camera has a permanent smudge right at its centre… Every image you take would have no, or very little detail in that central area.

Now imagine a permanent smudge in the centre of your vision… 

As photographers, it is something that doesn’t bear thinking about, but this is the effect macular disease has on an ever-increasing number of people in the UK. With around 300 people being diagnosed every day it’s the biggest cause of sight loss today, and can affect any one at any age.

That’s why, this summer, I’m on a mission to spread the word among the UKs photographic community with our club at the heart.

The Nation’s eyes are crying out for some TLC
– and that includes yours!

Our chair, Stan Gibson, is the first to agree that your eyesight is precious.

“While I don’t have macular disease, I do have a problem with my eyes that means I only have 60% of my vision. Happily, I do have my central vision and can still enjoy my photography, but I do know people who have macular disease, brought on at different times of life.”

Currently there is no cure for macular disease, a term which encompasses a cluster of different degenerative conditions. However the Macular Society – a local charity, based a stone’s throw away in Andover – has been championing the advancement of support services and treatments since 1987 and is hopeful that one day there will be a cure.

Having just completed a freelance contract at the Macular Society, I now understand the life-changing effects of this isolating disease. And I am keen to spread awareness among fellow photographers because we rely so heavily on our eyes.

The key message I took away from my stint at the Society was that the sooner you realise something is wrong, the longer you can preserve your sight. So, don’t delay in giving your eyes the very best chance by going through the following steps…

Ways to take care of your eyes today

  • Use the Macular Society’s Risk Checker, which only take a minute to assess your risk of macular disease and gives you some great advice.
  • Get clued up on nutrition and lifestyle tips for the eyes with scientific backing.
  • Always remember to protect your eyes from the sun.
  • Stop smoking and get some good quality sleep.
  • Have regular optician checks and mention any niggles with your sight, however small.
  • Ask your optician for an ‘OCT scan’, a test that reveals all the layers of the eye and finds problems before you become aware of them. These may cost c. £10, but are said to detect issues up to four years before standard testing.

Our ‘Look after your eyes’ summer campaign

Over the summer break, between May 21st and September 8th, I am committed to sharing the message to ‘Look after your eyes’ among the UK’s photographic community in the name of OPC.

I want to share awareness of macular disease and the tips above on looking after your eyes. And I want people to learn about the Macular Society, which provides so much help to those who have macular disease and is funding as many scientific projects as possible to fund better treatments and a cure. 

As part of this campaign, I have committed to taking part in the Macular Society’s ‘Step Around the World (…from home)’ sponsored challenge

The challenge

I will be walking 136 miles (219km) along a virtual route, taking in some of the UK’s key photographic sites. 

Starting from the OPC club room I will first ‘visit’ the Fox Talbot museum at Lacock in Wiltshire via the Macular Society head office in Andover. Then I’ll walk on to the Royal Photographic Society in Bristol before heading back to the club room in time for the new season.

Using the Macular Society’s standard of 2,112 steps per mile, this means I need to complete 287,232 steps by 9th September. (Given the weather today, I could get a bit soggy.)

Any support, which you can give via my ‘Just Giving’ page, will be hugely appreciated, even if that is just sharing the challenge around, using the share buttons you can see on that page.

As the summer progress, I hope to share more of the ways I’ve be able to spread the campaign – with any luck (and a bit of help from my photographic friends).

Let’s tell the Nation’s photographers to ‘Look after your eyes’, so we can all enjoy photography for longer.


What is a sensor?

A light-sensitive, rectangular device sited in back of the camera body behind the lens. Just like old-school film, this device captures the light coming in through the lens and processes it into an image. 

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