Mary Tyler Moore has gone almost entirely blind after a four-decade battle with diabetes, friends say.
The 77-year-old Moore was first diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 33, and spent decades as an activist drawing public attention to the disease. But her own fight with diabetes has reportedly taken a toll on the actress, who has lost nearly all of her vision.
A cover story in Closer Weekly quotes friends who say Mary Tyler Moore is fighting bravely, but still suffering the effects of the chronic disease.
“I don’t see her often, but I talk to her a bunch,” said Dick Van Dyke, who played her husband on The Dick Van Dyke Show. “She hasn’t been too well. She’s really having a battle with it, I’m sorry to say.”
The illness has forced Mary away from the public eye for more than a year, and the actress reportedly spends most days at her home.
“Her eyesight is what the big problem is right now,” said her former Mary Tyler Moore Show co-star Betty White, who added that Moore is “is almost beyond the point [of being able to see],” Betty says.
After decades of uncontrolled living that included a bout with alcoholism, Mary has taken great measures to slow the progress of the disease. For years she chose to keep track of sugar levels using old-fashioned testing strips and a syringe of insulin when necessary, and also carefully planned her meals.
“You’ve got to always plan,” she said in a 2009 interview with USA Today. “It is a fact of life that if someone invites you out to dinner you have to think, ‘What are they going to be doing when they serve you dinner? How quickly are they going to get it on the table from the time I arrive? When should I take my shot? What should I eat of what’s available?’ ”
Despite the latest setback, Mary herself remains just as upbeat as ever, sources add.
“She has her bad days emotionally, but she just tries to find enjoyment in each and every day,” another friend told Closer Weekly.
Mary also has help in her fight. Her husband, Robert Levine, is a cardiologist and helps her through the disease and offers his expertise in the medical field. Despite the pressures of the disease, friends say Mary and Robert remain just as strong as ever.
“We’ve laughed together, cried together, gotten disappointed together. They’ve just been the perfect couple,” said friend Dr. Mark Atkinson, who’s worked with Mary Tyler Moore and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for close to three decades.