Dame Judi Dench is determined to carry on with her work, despite her sight loss, even if that means asking her friends to help her learn her lines. According to a report in The Guardian, the British actor described how she copes with her deteriorating eyesight — the challenges she faces, and the unexpected advantages she gets — at an online event on February 25, for the Vision Foundation — the London sight loss charity.
“You find a way of just getting about and getting over the things that you find very difficult. I’ve had to find another way of learning lines and things, which is having great friends of mine repeat them to me over and over and over again. So, I have to learn through repetition, and I just hope that people won’t notice too much if all the lines are completely hopeless!” she was quoted as saying.
Per the Guardian report, the actor’s condition is caused by age-related macular degeneration, which affects more than 6,00,000 people in the UK.
Dench, however, also said that her loss of sight has an “occasional funny side”.
“I was doing the Winter’s Tale with Ken Branagh a couple of years ago, playing Paulina, and after we had been running for three weeks or so at the Garrick, he said to me — I have a long speech at the end — he said, ‘Judi, if you were to say that speech about eight feet to your right, you’d be saying it to me and not to the pros’ arch…’ I rely on people to tell me!” she joked.
The 86-year-old actor also said that her mother had similar sight loss, “and now Finty, my daughter, goes and has her eyes checked. It is intensely irritating.”
“But, it does enable you to do one thing and that is that you have to get very close to people before you can recognise who they are. During lockdown, I made a film and I was up close addressing people wearing masks during rehearsals, nothing to do with any scene I’m in. It’s kind of exquisite if you can do that and that’s the good side of it, and you have to look at that side of it.”
Dench said she could walk past someone she knows well, and not recognise them. “That’s tricky… But you adapt to it. And I don’t want it to interfere.”