Veteran actress Judi Dench has spoken candidly about her struggle with failing eyesight, following her devastating diagnosis with macular degeneration.
Speaking to Surrey Life the 83-year-old revealed her hopes for the future and the steps she is taking to cope with the condition, which eventually leads to irreversible vision loss.
When asked what ambitions she hopes to fulfill she replied;
“Ooh, there’s a question; I just want to go on being mobile really and being able to do things. I’m not going to be beaten by my eyes for instance. I have macular degeneration, which means treatment every six weeks, but you just have to settle for it.”
Going on to describe how the condition has forced her to make adaptations in her day-to-day life on set, she added;
“On my scripts, my font is point-size 22, so you can imagine… If we’re doing a sonnet of 14 lines, all the others will have one page and I’ll have 14! It’s ridiculous, it’s a farce, but I’m not going to give in.”
Last year, the veteran actress also explained that the condition has also impacted one of her favourite pastimes – going to the cinema.
Speaking at the Santa Barbara international film festival 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.
Earlier this year Judi starred in documentary film Nothing Like a Dame, which charts the decades long friendship between Judi, Maggie Smith, Eileen Atkins and Joan Plowright.
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.