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Judi Dench says her deteriorating eyesight has made it ‘impossible’ to read scripts

A woman stands on a red carpet dressed in white
Judi Dench arrives at the 94th Academy Awards in 2022.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
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Judi Dench is opening up about how her degenerative eye condition is impacting her ability to act.

In a Friday appearance on “The Graham Norton Show,” the 88-year-old ”Allelujah” actor revealed that her deteriorating eyesight is making it increasingly difficult for her to read scripts.

“It has become impossible,” Dench said, according to People. “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.

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“I used to find it very easy to learn lines and remember them. I could do the whole of ‘Twelfth Night’ right now.”

The two have worked together now 12 times, convincing Branagh that his friend was just the right person to play his grandmother in his semiautobiographical ‘Belfast.’

The esteemed actor has been struggling with age-related macular degeneration, which causes the gradual loss of vision, for more than a decade, first revealing her diagnosis in 2012.

“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 “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.”

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

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.

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. “I’m not doing anything much at the moment because I can’t see.”

The Oscar-winning “Iris” actor admitted her condition was “bad enough,” though, and that she had recently had to ask a friend 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.”

Dench continued that she could still be on stage, so long as there weren’t things she might fall over. Still, she’s determined to not let the condition rob her of her career completely.

“I’ve got to teach myself a new way of learning,” she told Theroux. “I’ve realized that I need to know where it is on the page. I’ll teach myself a way. I know I will, as long as I don’t trip over doing it.”

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