Dame Judi: My battle to save my eyesight
Dame Judi Dench has revealed she is battling to save her eyesight.
The James Bond Star, 77, has been diagnosed with macular degeneration which can lead to blindness.
In a deeply moving interview, Dame Judi said her sight is already so bad she cannot see faces in front of her and friends have to read scripts to her so she can learn her lines.
But she said she is determined not to let the condition beat her and hopes recent treatment has stopped the progressive decline.
She confessed: “I can’t read scripts any more because of the trouble with my eyes.
“And so 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.
“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.”
Meeting the Mirror in a trendy London hotel, Dame Judi said: “I can’t see your face at all now, but I can see your outline.
“I can see over there [she indicates the far side of the room, some 15ft away].
“The most distressing thing is in a restaurant in the evening I can’t see the person I’m having dinner with.
“Actually, what I miss are people corpsing on stage.
“I know there might be something going on but sometimes I can’t see it and that infuriates me as I think I’m really missing out on something.”
Dame Judi has vowed not to be beaten by it.
She said: “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.”
She plans to buy a digital book reader so she can make the words bigger.
She revealed: “I’m going to try that and I love talking books, too, because my daughter, Finty, has done lots and Michael did masses of them, too.”
Michael is her late husband Michael Williams who died from lung cancer in 2001.
They had one daughter, Finty, 40, who has a 15-year-old son, Sam.
Her latest film is about a group of British pensioners who spend their retirement in India at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel after they have been cast aside by society in the UK.
Dame Judi said: “It’s full of hope.”
After a number of successful TV shows, Dame Judi’s film career took off when she played Queen Victoria in Mrs Brown in 1997.
She later won an Oscar for her role as Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare in Love. She is now filming her seventh James Bond film, Skyfall, as MI5 boss M alongside Daniel Craig’s 007.
But don’t call her a national treasure.
She said. “It sounds like you will be put away in a glass cabinet and every now and then you’re taken out to be dusted down.”
And she has no plans to retire. She said: “As long as there is a possibility of working I’m not going to retire because if I retire nothing will work any more and it’s hard enough as it is.
“I’m very conscious that I’m in the minority in that I love what I do. How big is the number of people who are running to work to do a job that they like? And how lucky to be employed at it – how incredibly lucky.”