February 20, 2012 / 3:50 PM / 8 years ago

British actress Judi Dench says not going blind

LONDON (Reuters) - Oscar-winning British actress Judi Dench, who has revealed she is suffering from a degenerative eye condition, played down concern over her sight on Monday, saying she was not going blind.

Actress Judi Dench poses while launching the start of production of the new James Bond film "SkyFall" at a restaurant in London in this November 3, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/Files

In an interview published on Saturday, Dench said an age-related condition called macular degeneration meant she had lost part of her eyesight and struggled to read film scripts or see people sitting in front of her.

The admission led to widespread media speculation about the 77-year-old, who won an Oscar in 1998 for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I in “Shakespeare in Love” and who also plays the spy chief M in the James Bond films.

“In response to the numerous articles in the media concerning my eye condition - macular degeneration - I do not wish for this to be overblown,” Dench said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

“This condition is something that thousands and thousands of people all over the world are having to contend with. It’s something that I have learnt to cope with and adapt to - and it will not lead to blindness.”

According to Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), just under a third of Britons aged 75 or over have signs of macular degeneration, a painless condition that erodes central vision and leaves peripheral sight unaffected.

There are two forms of the condition: “dry”, which leaves people with blurry central vision, and “wet”, a more serious type which can cause blindspots.

Dench told Britain’s Daily Mirror that the condition had affected her sight in both eyes, although she has received treatment which she hoped would prevent further damage.

“I had wet in one eye and dry in the other and they had to do these injections and I think it’s arrested it. I hope so,” Dench was quoted as saying.

“I can’t read scripts anymore because of the trouble with my eyes. Somebody comes in and reads them to me, like telling me a story.”

Despite her eye problems, Dench said she had no plans to retire. Her seventh Bond film, “Skyfall”, is due to be released later this year and she is currently promoting “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, a comedy-drama set in India.

Reporting by Michael Holden, editing by Paul Casciato

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