Judi Dench talks failing eyesight amid health issue as she admits ‘I can’t read anymore’

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Dame Judi Dench is an acclaimed actress who has worked in the entertainment industry for decades and has earned herself countless accolades. Away from the spotlight, the 85-year-old James Bond actress has opened up about living with her failing eyesight.

The British actress was first diagnosed with macular degeneration in 2012, a degenerative eye condition which is the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK, according to the Macular Society.

As a result, Judi was forced to give up driving just five years later.

The Cats star and her daughter Finty Williams recently chatted with presenter Gaby Rosilin on her podcast, where the trio spoke about wearing face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Gaby asked: “So how much can you see? I know a lot of people who have macular degeneration. How much can you still see?”

“I can’t hear nor can I see them,” Judi chuckled.

“I can easily go up and play a whole scene with somebody who is totally the wrong person.”

The podcast host then quizzed the Dame on whether she could see her daughter who was also in the room.

“Oh yes, I can see Finty,” the actress admitted.

Judi explained that she can see things around her but struggles to read the text in scripts.

She replied: “I can’t see to read anymore. So I have a different process for learning.

“They see if you can’t hear very well then you look at people’s mouths. That’s how you hear what they said if you can’t hear them.”

She added: “But if you can’t see their mouths because they’re behind masks.”


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Gaby went on to discuss people wearing see-through masks as an alternative amid the coronavirus pandemic.

She explained: “They’re talking about a see-through mask for people who lip read. But surely if you can’t see terribly well and you’re lip reading, how do you see what they’re saying?”

Judi said: “Oh, you just have to be pointed in the right direction don’t you, and get closer.

“The excuse is exquisite of course. There’s a whole crowd of people and they say, ‘Look, who is here…’

“I have to go six inches away from the person to say, ‘Hello’.”

Judi had previously been married to British actor Michael Williams, who tragically died from lung cancer at the age of 65 in 2001.

The pair have one child together, Tara Cressida Frances Williams, who was born in September 1972 and is an actress who goes by the stage name of Finty Williams.

A couple of years after Michael’s death, the actress met her partner David Mills.

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