Judi Dench says she can no longer see on film sets: ‘And I can’t see to read’

Judi Dench poses for photographers wearing a black blazer with a black and gold patterned sash
Judi Dench revealed she was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration in 2012.
(Vianney Le Caer / Invision / Associated Press)

As her eyesight continues to worsen, Oscar-winning actor Judi Dench said this week that acting and seeing on film sets are becoming more difficult.

Since revealing in 2012 that she was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration, the “Philomena” and “Skyfall” actor has been open about how her failing eyesight has strained daily life as well as her acting career.

Dench, 88, said in February that it was “impossible” for her to read scripts. And in a recent interview with the Notebook, a Daily Mirror magazine, published over the weekend, Dench said her eyesight continues to worsen beyond just scripts and shared, “I can’t see on a film set any more.”


“And I can’t see to read,” she continued. “So I can’t see much. But you know you just deal with it. Get on.”

Actor Judi Dench, 88, tells Graham Norton that her age-related macular degeneration has made it increasingly difficult for her to learn her lines.

Feb. 17, 2023

Dench has continued to act in recent years, including roles in the 2021 Oscar best picture nominee, “Belfast,” the 2022 drama “Allelujah” and a cameo in Apple Studios’ Christmas musical comedy “Spirited,” starring Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds.

When Dench appeared on an episode of “Louis Theroux Interviews” late last year, the Independent reported that she told Theroux she does not want to retire from acting.

Around the time she went public with her diagnosis, Dench gave some background of her condition, telling “Entertainment Tonight” in 2012, “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.”

Oscar-winning actor Judi Dench wrote a heated letter about Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ in the British newspaper the Times. She said the streamer should reconsider adding a disclaimer.

Oct. 20, 2022

According to the Mayo Clinic Health System website, AMD is the most common cause of vision loss for adults over age 50 and especially affects the ability to read, recognize faces and view road signs.

However, the Oscar-winning “Shakespeare in Love” actor admitted her condition was “bad enough,” though, and that she had recently had to ask a friend to cut up her food for her when they were dining in a darkened room. She also said that looking at Theroux, he was “quite fuzzy.” In recent years, she also had to give up driving.


The “Iris” actor has managed to continue acting thanks, in part, to her photographic memory. (In the past, Dench has bragged, “I could do the whole of ‘Twelfth Night’ right now.”) But due to her inability to read the words on the page, Dench has had to rely on friends to teach her lines. She has previously shared how she is looking for a device that can help her learn scripts.

“It’s difficult for me if I have any length of a part,” Dench told Daily Mirror. “I haven’t yet found a way.”