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Thursday 21 August 2014

Dench tells of eyesight struggle

Published 23/02/2014 | 12:57

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Dame Judi Dench revealed she suffers from age-related condition macular degeneration

Oscar-winning actress Dame Judi Dench has told of her "difficult" battle with failing eyesight that has left her unable to read scripts and struggling to watch films.

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The legendary star of stage and screen suffers from macular degeneration - an age-related condition that leads to the gradual loss of vision - which her mother also had.

But the James Bond actress, who has notched up a staggering 95 award nominations during her illustrious career, balked at suggestions her career will slow down because of her failing health.

The 79-year-old told The Hollywood Reporter: "I never want to make much of it, but it is difficult - very, very difficult.

"I can't read anymore. I can't paint like I used to. I try to watch movies, but it's quite difficult. But these are all of the negatives. I don't want to really think about all that. What I can do, I do. And I somehow get by."

Even before her eyesight began to decline, Dame Judi preferred to have others read her scripts to her, as Steve Coogan did in her latest film Philomena which has earned the actress an Oscar nomination.

But Dame Judi, who has also recently undergone surgery on her knee, insists she has no plans to retire.

She said: "I heard a woman being interviewed on the radio the other day who was 105, and I expected this very frail voice, but this wonderful voice came out and she said to this reporter who was interviewing her, 'I'll tell you one thing,' she said, 'Don't stop anything. I never stop anything I'm doing because otherwise I'll never get started again.' And I thought, 'That'll do.'"

Since making her professional acting debut at the Old Vic in 1957, Dame Judi has become one of Britain's - and Hollywood's - most acclaimed female actors.

It was Hollywood director Harvey Weinstein - a long-time fan of hers - that launched Dame Judi's career on the big screen nearly half a century later when she was 63 after seeing her in John Madden's Mrs Brown.

Their partnership has been one of Hollywood's big success stories, with Weinstein distributing six of Dame Judi's seven Oscar nominated films - Mrs Brown, Shakespeare in Love, Chocolat, Iris, Mrs. Henderson Presents and now Philomena.

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