The legendary actress has been struggling with a decade-long battle with ‘traumatic’ sight condition

British-born Judi Dench is one of those actors who have been on the pedestal for so long they are considered legends.

Many agree that Dench, whose career spans over 60 years, is a national treasure, and although this sounds quite flattering, she doesn’t want to be called that. “For one thing,” she told People, “it’s a terrible label. So dusty, so dreary. For another, it relegates me to being an 86-year-old woman. Whereas in my mind’s eye I’m 6ft and willowy and about 39.”

The 88-year-old actress has been experiencing health issues which affect her vision and makes it difficult for her to read her lines. Namely, Dench was diagnosed with a condition known as macular degeneration which affects the middle part of the vision and may result in blurred or no vision in the center of the visual field. During an appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Dench revealed that her vision worsened over the years.

”It has become impossible and because I have a photographic memory, I need to find a machine that not only teaches me my lines but also tells me where they appear on the page,” the actress said when discussing the difficulty she faces when learning her lines

”In response to the numerous articles in the media concerning my eye condition – macular degeneration- I do not wish for this to be overblown,” she told ET at the time.

”This condition is something that thousands and thousands of people all over the world are having to contend with…and it’s something I have learnt to cope with and adapt to — and it will not lead to blindness.”

Back in 2022, when she was asked of the condition of her eyesight, Dench shared with Louis Theroux, ”Bad. Bad enough. Bad enough in that you’re quite fuzzy. You’re just a tad fuzzy.”

Despite having difficulties reading her lines, Dench doesn’t show any signs of slowing down and doesn’t consider to retire from acting. ”I don’t want to retire. I’m not doing much at the moment because I can’t see. It’s bad,” she said. ”You find a way of just getting about and getting over the things that you find very difficult,” she added. “I’ve had to find another way of learning lines and things, which is having great friends of mine repeat them to me over and over and over again. So I have to learn through repetition, and I just hope that people won’t notice too much if all the lines are completely hopeless!”

Back in 2001, Dench experienced heartbreak when she lost her husband of 30 years and the true love of her life, Michael Williams. Speaking of the loss and her late husband, she said, ”He was the most unselfish man, and he wouldn’t ever attribute that to anything that might be between us… Oh, God, how he used to make me laugh. He used to make me absolutely howl.”

Following his passing, Dench never thought that she would be able to be with someone again, but love happened for her in 2010 when she met conservationist David Mills.

”I wasn’t even prepared to be ready for it. It was very, very gradual and grown up. It’s just wonderful,” she told The Times in 2014.

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