Judi Dench opens up about her struggle with her failing eyesight

Veteran actress Judi Dench has spoken candidly about her struggle with failing eyesight, following her devastating diagnosis with macular degeneration.

82-year-old Dame Judi has admitted that the disease, which eventually leads to irreversible vision loss, takes a severe toll on her day-to-day life, often leaving her struggling to carry out normal, everyday tasks.

But most recently, the acting legend revealed that the condition means it’s harder than ever to enjoy the cinema she loves so much.

Speaking at the Santa Barbara international film festival on Thursday, Judi revealed that she even has to get people to describe films to her as her eyesight is so bad.

She shared, “Because my eyesight is so bad now, I can’t actually see very much and so I do go but a friend of mine usually has to say: ‘He’s kissing her now’ or ‘He’s walking away’,

“So a lot of things I miss – it’s not so much fun.”

Previously, Judi has also admitted that her bad eyesight means she now has to take extra care with her steps, revealing, “I miss steps and things if I’m not told.”

Age-related macular degeneration is, according to the NHS, a relatively painless condition, but one than can eventually leave you blind. Given that it’s age-related, AMD is more common in people over 50, and currently affects around 600,000 people in the UK. Judi was diagnosed with the condition in 2012, after revealing her mother had also had it too.

In 2015, she also admitted that she was unable to travel to India on her own to film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel due to poor eyesight. The actress revealed that she relied heavily on old friends including Maggie Smith to help her get around.

“These days I can’t really travel on my own because I need someone to say, ‘Look out, there’s a step here!’ or else I fall all over the place like a mad, drunk lady.”, she revealed to Radio Times.

“That’s why it was just glorious going back to India again with Mags, Celia, Pep and Bill.”

But of course, the actress continues to prove that despite her health worries, she’s got no plans to slow down anytime soon. She’s recently portrayed Queen Victoria, in aforementioned Victoria and Abdul, which charts the close, but controversial, friendship between the monarch and her royal aide Abdul Karim.

(Judi and her Victoria and Abdul co-star Ali Fazal)

And Judi is also currently starring in the much-anticipated Murder on the Orient Express, which is directed by Kenneth Branagh.

Macular degeneration symptoms

According to the NHS, one of the first symptoms of macular degeneration is the blurring of your vision when you look straight ahead.

Following symptoms include the inability to make out fine details, which can mean reading and driving can be difficult, the inability to make out faces, and writing, faces or images becoming distorted.

While there is no cure for the disease, vision aids and a healthy diet rich in Vitamins A, C and E can help.

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