Judi Dench is losing eyesight

2012-02-19 12:41

London - Oscar-winning British actress Judi Dench has lost part of her eyesight and struggles to read film scripts or see people sitting directly in front of her.

The 77-year-old, who plays the spy chief M in the James Bond films, said she has developed an age-related condition called macular degeneration.

In an interview with Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper on Saturday, Dench said it had affected her sight in both eyes, although she has received treatment which she hopes will prevent further damage.

"I can't read scripts anymore because of the trouble with my eyes," Dench was quoted as saying. "Somebody comes in and reads them to me, like telling me a story.

"It's usually my daughter or my agent or a friend and actually I like that, because I sit there and imagine the story in my mind.

"I've got what my ma had, macular degeneration, which you get when you get old."

Arrested development

Dench's agent could not immediately be reached for comment.

Just under a third of Britons aged 75 or over have signs of macular degeneration, a painless condition that erodes central vision and leaves peripheral sight unaffected, according to Britain's National Health Service (NHS).

There are two forms of the condition: "dry", which leaves people with blurry central vision, and "wet", a more serious type which can cause blindspots. It does not cause total blindness, according to the NHS website.

"I had wet in one eye and dry in the other and they had to do these injections and I think it's arrested it. I hope so," Dench told the Mirror newspaper.

"The most distressing thing is in a restaurant in the evening I can't see the person I'm having dinner with.

"You get used to it. I've got lenses and glasses and things and very bright light helps. I can do a crossword if it's bright sunshine but if a cloud comes out the next minute I can't see anything."

Despite her eye problems, Dench said she had no plans to retire. Her seventh Bond film, Skyfall, is due to be released later this year and she is currently promoting The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a comedy-drama set in India.

One of Britain's best-known actresses, Dench won an Oscar in 1998 for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love.


  • Se-a Spencer Ikeremm - 2012-02-19 13:21

    That's sad to hear. Eish, old age must be a b*****. But I hope she'll keep on taking roles and that people keep approaching her for roles.

  • brionyl.french - 2012-02-20 06:16

    Ageing sucks

  • Gail - 2012-02-20 15:55

    Sympathy to Judi. My Mom has this and it is immensely frustrating since she has an amazing mind still at 90 and can talk about topical things like magnetic pole shifts but has to be in Frail Care because she can't help herself. It is vital to see an eye specialist at least once a year especially if you have been a smoker, sunworshipper and done a lot of eye intense activities. My Mom painted, sewed her last lace beaded wedding dress at 79. She had had terrigiums removed, as well as cataracts, had blue eyes, diabetes is genetic in our family. Make yourself familiar with the symptoms by googling this so it doesn't happen to you or anyone in your family. Mom had glasses and put off seeing an eye specilist attributing her odd visual symptoms to eyestrain until one day she suddenly couldn't see anything except light and dark. Surgery was done but it was too late for the one eye which was very light sensitive. The drops used to keep the bit of vision left gradually damage the hearing as well. I just pray my Mom doesn't live long enough for that to happen. Her hearing is going as is her balance. Be proactive.

  • Gail - 2012-02-20 16:02

    I forgot to say that one should start doing this at age 45 - 50. Mom also has glaucoma and it has now reacched the stage where she cannot read whole telephone numbers even or newspaper headlines. My Mom's godmother started the ASA Library for the Blind because ironically one her father's sister lost her vision youngish. There is research going on at a genetic level to isolate the alleles which cause this so it can be prevented and possibly cured but nothing has come of it as yet.

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