By the age of 79 most people will have been retired for some years but it depends on your profession and more importantly, you. Politicians and actors often carry on working into old age and that is what Dame Judi Dench, 79, is planning.
Ms Dench has faced many of the usual ageing battles and recently underwent knee surgery but the much-loved veteran actress is back in the news as the 2014 Oscars approach and she opens up about her ongoing eyesight battle.
Judi has AMD, age-related macular degeneration, which the RNIB website explains as: "Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye condition that affects a tiny part of the retina at the back of your eye, which is called the macula. AMD causes problems with your central vision, but does not lead to total loss of sight and is not painful. AMD affects the vision you use when you're looking directly at something, for example when you're reading, looking at photos or watching television. AMD may make this central vision distorted or blurry and, over a period of time, it may cause a blank patch in the centre of your vision."
Untreated it can result in virtual blindness though.
In February 2012 TEK reported that Dame Judi was facing a tough time as her eyesight failed and this week there are media reports about her ongoing sight problems. Dench is reluctant to discuss her failing eyesight preferring to concentrate on the many positives in her life.
Now unable to read scripts, watch movies or paint Judi still tries to play down her disability regarding it as anything but limiting. She dismisses the negatives, and any claims that she may be forced to retire, insisting "What I can do, I do. And I somehow get by.'
She has the old style British Bulldog spirit and it will serve her well.
According to the Mail Online: "She [Dench] said: 'I heard a woman being interviewed on the radio the other day who was 105, and I expected this very frail voice, but this wonderful voice came out and she said to this reporter who was interviewing her, "I'll tell you one thing," she said, "Don't stop anything. I never stop anything I'm doing because otherwise I'll never get started again." And I thought, "That'll do." '"
Attitude always plays an important part in how we react to any negative health issues and a positive spirit can work wonders. Watching Dench's recent appearance on the Graham Norton show it was hard to believe she was experiencing such health issues. She is as ever a bubbly fun lady which a semi-wicked sense of humour.
The cause of AMD is not clear, yet. The advice for now is protect your eyes from the sun, eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and stop smoking to keep your eyes as healthy as possible. But genes play a part and you can do nothing about your genetic make up. Dame Judi's Mum had AMD so for her it is a genetic condition.
In time gene therapy may be an option in treating AMD? The RNIB website lists things which may cause AMD or be contributory factors as:
Remember though regular eyesight tests are important to detect AMD in its early stages. Early detection will give you the best chance of receiving successful treatment.
Other treatments include laser surgery and photodynamic therapy. But according to one source "None of these treatments is a cure for wet AMD. The disease and loss of vision may progress despite treatment."
Sadly for NHS patients in the UK budget cuts are limiting some health treatments simply due to age. However the cost of treating AMD weighed against the cost of supporting a blind person is a no-brainer. Helping a patient keep their sight for as long as possible is cost effective and has obvious benefits for the person, their family and their way of life.
Macular degeneration affects younger people and is less common. Like AMD it can make it "difficult or impossible to read or recognize faces, although enough peripheral vision remains to allow other activities of daily life."
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Other sources and further AMD information can be found at:
More on AMD here