Judi Dench shares health update after reading scripts ‘becomes impossible’

Judi Dench has opened up about the challenges her eyesight condition has brought on, revealing that it’s become “impossible” for her to read scripts.

Years ago, the award-winning actor revealed she had AMD (age-related macular degeneration), a common condition that usually occurs in people’s fifties and sixties and affects vision.

AMD doesn’t cause total blindness, but can make reading and recognising faces difficult, according to the NHS website.

Last October, the 88-year-old Belfast star said the condition was “bad enough”, admitting she “can’t see”.

Now, during an appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Dench said “it has become impossible” for her to read scripts (via Entertainment Tonight).

“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,” she explained.

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

Dame Judi Dench (PA Wire)
Dame Judi Dench (PA Wire)

In 2019, Dench said she had had to give up driving because of her eyesight, calling it “one of the most traumatic moments” of her life.

“It was absolutely appalling,” she said at the time. “But I just know I’ll kill somebody if I get behind the wheel of a car now.”

When previously asked if she any plans to retire, she said: “I don’t want to retire.”

Dench could most recently be seen leading the 2022 drama Allelujah, an adaptation of Alan Bennett’s 2018 play of the same name.

The movie tells the story of a local community who bans together to fight the threatening closure of a geriatric ward in a small Yorkshire hospital.

The Graham Norton Show airs Fridays on BBC One and iPlayer.