Judi Dench can no longer see on film sets due to degenerative disease

Judi Dench is unable to see on movie sets anymore.
Judi Dench is unable to see on movie sets anymore. Photo credit: Getty Images

Oscar-winning actor Judi Dench says that a degenerative eye condition has left her unable to read scripts or see on set.

Dench, 88, told UK newspaper the Daily Mirror's Notebook magazine on Sunday that it's hard to learn lines with her condition.

"I mean I can't see on a film set anymore," said Dench.

"And I can't see to read. So I can't see much. But you know you just deal with it. Get on. It's difficult for me if I have any length of a part. I haven't yet found a way. Because I have so many friends who will teach me the script. But I have a photographic memory."

Dench, who won a best supporting actress Oscar for her role as Elizabeth I in the 1998 film Shakespeare in Love, revealed in 2012 that she had been diagnosed with the eye condition, called age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Despite these difficulties, Dench said she will try to work "as much as I can."

CNN has reached out to Dench's representatives.

Earlier this year, Dench told The Graham Norton Show that learning lines had "become impossible."

"Normally somebody could just teach you the lines, and goodness knows that's happened before, but now I've just found I have a photographic memory," she said. Her memory is so impressive that she said she's able to recite the whole of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

The critically acclaimed actress of stage and screen, who has won two Golden Globes and several BAFTAs, also told Notebook that she tries to live each day to the full.

"I have an irrational fear of boredom," she said. "That's why I now have this tattoo that says carpe diem [seize the day]. That's what we should live by."

Dench got the tattoo in 2016 at the age of 81 as a gift from her daughter.

"That's my motto: ‘Seize the day.'" Dench told Surrey Life magazine at the time.

"Finty (her daughter) gave it to me for my 81st birthday. She's wonderful with surprises."

In May 2020, at the age of 85, Dench became the oldest person ever to feature on the cover of British Vogue. Editor-in-chief Edward Enninful hailed her as "one of the nation's most beloved citizens" in an Instagram post at the time.