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Judi Dench's nine-year battle with 'traumatic' sight condition revealed

Dame Judi was diagnosed with an eye condition in 2012

Bridie Wilkins

Dame Judi Dench was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in 2012, a degenerative eye condition which is the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK, according to Macular Society.

SEE: Judi Dench was unrecognisable at start of her career - take a look back

The 86-year-old star has spoken out about her failing eyesight several times, and to mark World Sight Day, we're shining a light on everything she has said in order to raise awareness.

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WATCH: Dame Judi Dench opens up to HELLO!

In an interview with the Radio Times, Judi recalled how her vision has changed: "I can't read the paper now, I can't do the crossword, I can't read a book.

"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 went on to reveal that in 2017, she was forced to stop driving.

MORE: GMB's Susanna Reid's condition is 'incurable'

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A post shared by Vision Foundation (@vision_fdn)

"A couple of years ago I stopped driving," she began, before going on to call it one of the most "traumatic" and "appalling" moments of her life. "But I just know I'll kill somebody if I get behind the wheel of a car now," she explained.

Dame Judi also revealed that her mother suffers from a similar condition, while she fears that her daughter Finty will inherit the condition, since it's genetic. Judi added that she ensures Finty has regular eye tests in a bid to take stock of her sight.

For Judi, the fear of losing her sight is all too much. When asked when she thought she may lose her vision entirely she replied: "I don't want to say. I can see enough… You adapt to it. So I ignore it altogether."

It's undeniably hard to come to terms with, but leading optometrist Dr Nish says there are things that can be done to slow the progession. "Studies show that taking nutritional supplements such as Vitamin C & E, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Zinc & Copper may help," she tells HELLO!. "Also, lifestyle changes such as dieting, exercising, avoiding smoking and protecting eyes from UV rays may help as well."

Here's everything else there is to know about the condition.

What is macular degeneration?

"Age-Related Macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that affects one’s central vision where their sharpest vision occurs, causing vision loss," Dr Nish explains. "This is one of the leading causes of blindness in the world. There are two forms of AMD - Dry and Wet. The dry form involves the accumulation of drusen (i.e waste of the eye) in one's macula, while the wet form involves abnormal blood vessel growth & fluid build-up."

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Dame Judi Dench in 2013, a year after she was diagnosed with AMD

At what age might you get age-related macular degeneration?

"Age-related macular degeneration may be found as early as age 55," says Dr Nish. Dame Judi Dench was diagnosed when she was 77 years old.

Age-related macular degeneration symptoms

"Most of the time, AMD can be diagnosed before symptoms arise by an eye doctor," Dr Nish says. "In the later stage of AMD, symptoms may include blurry or fuzzy vision, the appearance of straight lines/objects being wavy, and/or grey, dark or empty areas in the centre of one's vision."

Treatment for age-related macular degeneration

"Unfortunately, Macular Degeneration is considered an incurable eye disease," Dr Nish tells us. "However, studies show that taking nutritional supplements such as Vitamin C & E, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Zinc & Copper may slow the progression. Also, lifestyle changes such as dieting, exercising, avoiding smoking and protecting eyes from UV rays may help as well. For Wet AMD, medications called anti-VEGF drugs can reduce the abnormal blood vessels, bleeding & swelling but cannot repair any previous vision loss."

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