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What a performance

Seeing the music was becoming a bit of a performance

Helen Williams discovered the cornet in 1975 and has gone on to become one of the world’s finest flugelhorn players. She plays for the current No:1 world ranked Cory Brass Band from Wales. One of Helen’s many achievements was becoming the first and only female principal cornet to win the British Open in 1996 with the Marple Band from Greater Manchester. Since then she has also won the award for the Best Soloist, a feat she repeated 20 years later with the Cory Band.

Helen WIlliams Flugelhorn Cory Brass Band gets her musicians glasses spectacles lenses from Allegro Optical Opticians in Meltham

Helen had a long and successful career with Foden’s Band before she and her husband Glyn moved from Cheshire to South Wales to Join The Cory Band in 2015. She helped them to the unprecedented Grand Slam of 2016, with wins at the European Championships, the British Open, the National Championships and Brass in Concert. Helen won the best instrumentalist at the Open and Nationals and also 4barsrest Player of the Year. Helen has also won the Best Flugel award at Brass in Concert for the last 3 years in a row.

Why Helen was struggling to see the music

The first time Allegro Optical met Helen she complained that reading the music was becoming more difficult. Finding a solution to seeing both the music notation and the conductor (Phillip Harper) was increasingly problematic. Helen said she had been muddling along with the mixture of different spectacles and contact lenses. Helen’s journey to finding the perfect optical solution has been far from an easy ride. With more than one obstacle to overcome it was far from straightforward. Helen, who is presbyopic, also has pronounced ocular dominance, the tendency to prefer visual input from one eye to the other.

Ocular dominance issues solved at Allegro Optical Opticians in Meltham

It is this disparity between the images, (which decreases with distance), which was causing Helen some problems when playing. The phenomenon of eye dominance is well established in sports science. Knowing which eye dominates can help an athlete achieve better head and eye coordination and to interpret faster responses. Some athletes are cross-dominant, meaning that a right-handed person is left-eye dominant or a left-handed person is right-eye dominant; this can be an advantage in some sports, but it can be a potentially serious disadvantage in others such as archery and target shooting.

Helen had a similar problem to the left eye/ right-hand dominant archer. Her right eye was dominating her vision and her brain was processing the right image by preference. This was causing focusing problems, particularly when playing a solo. When playing Helen always had the music stand to her left, with the bell of her instrument partially obscuring the field of view in her right eye, and blurring her vision binocularly. This happened sub-consciously and her brain did not know which eye was providing the information. It just knew that this was the best available and so her visual acuity was reduced.

A clear solution

Eye dominance at Allegro Optical Opticians in Meltham

Helen had visited her usual opticians and opted for a varifocal solution. But it was still not giving her the clarity she needed when playing. At Allegro Optical we came up with a monocular lens solution. When playing a solo her music stand is so far to one side she needed to read the music from the bottom left corner of her lens. Something which can’t be done in a standard varifocal design lens. We dispensed Helen with our wide field Fogoto lens to correct Helen’s right eye. This allowed her to see the music stand and conductor. But for the left non-dominant eye we dispensed a digital, inverted, outset power boost lens for the two music stand distances only. This allowed Helen’s less dominant eye to deliver a crystal clear image at those two distances while letting the dominant eye process all other distances. This “induced” and “forced” monocular situation allows Helen to view two pages of music notation clearly, giving her a much wider field of view than a conventional binocular solution.

Helen WIlliams of Cory Band and Sheryl Doe the musicians optician at the Sage Brass in Concert

We caught up with Helen at the Sage in Gateshead, where The Cory Band were competing in the 42nd Brass in Concert competition, which the band subsequently won and Helen was awarded the Fesa Trophy for Best Flugel Award. When asked about her new glasses Helen said “To be able to see my music in both seated and standing solo positions, not to mention seeing the conductor, and to be able to interact with the audience is priceless. I had begun to think that all of the above would never be an option, but Allegro have worked so hard to help overcome my particular problems. I cannot thank them enough.”

Why Allegro?

Making music requires the ability to focus quickly at many different distances. But this can present real problems to musicians particularly if their instrument obscures their visual field. As a result of this, some musicians go on to develop postural problems as a result of their compromised visual clarity.

With an understanding of the playing and seating positions of professional musicians, and a very knowledgeable team of optical professionals Allegro Optical are ideally placed to resolve these issues and many more.  Once visual clarity is restored and the optical disorders corrected the musicians working and playing life can easily be improved.

Many Musicians who experience focusing problems are unaware that there are affordable solutions to their vision problems. Most Optometrists and Opticians either prescribe and dispense single vision lenses for the music stand, or Computer or Office lenses which don’t give enough depth of view.

Conclusion

This case study has illustrated the variety of optical challenges that optical practitioners may face when a musician presents in practice. Allegro Optical have won many optical and business awards for their specialist work in the field of musicians eye care.  We are frequently quoted by the Association of Dispensing Opticians (ABDO)

We’re always happy to offer advice

If you are a musician who is experiencing visual or focusing issues when playing give us a call to book an appointment or for an informal chat. Call Allegro Optical in Meltham, near Huddersfield on  01484 907090.

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Eyesight and the digital age

Amy’s eyes are now fit for the digital age and the great outdoors

From team building days with outdoor activities to first aid training and hill skills, Splat Training do the lot. Surrounded by beautiful countryside who could ask for a better workplace? Splat Training provides team building activities including herding sheep, and sampling Yorkshire ales. They also run courses on-hill skills for those who would like to learn or develop their map reading and navigation skills along with interesting training course on leading guided walks. A Allegro Optical Map Reading Glasses Hill Skills courses Splat Training Splat Training is the brainchild of founder Amy Gault, a qualified teacher from Todmorden. SPLAT training provides a range first aid training from First Aid at Work to Emergency First Aid in the Workplace to Paediatric First Aid and Parent and Child First Aid. However, SPLAT also offers Team building experiences, Hill Walker’s Navigation training and Schools events. The inspiration for these wide-ranging services grew from nearly 20 years’ experience in the outdoor industry; combing her teaching qualifications and her beautiful farm based classroom location at Staups Lea Farm. Hill walking and climbing have been a lifelong passion of Amy’s, and she has been an outdoor pursuits instructor since 2000. While the great outdoors is Amy’s place of work, running a business requires a certain amount of paperwork. Whether we entrepreneurs like it or not we have to spend a fair proportion of our working week tackling the figures and balancing the books. While many entrepreneurs see the paperwork as tedious, this was certainly becoming the case for Amy as she struggled with her deteriorating vision. Amy had used reading glasses for some time, but these no longer provided a sufficient correction for the computer and written work. Seeking a satisfactory solution Amy contacted us at Allegro Optical and travelled to Meltham for an eye examination and sight test.

Presbyopia

Allegro Optical Opticians in Meltham are members of BNI Networking   We found Amy’s eyes to be perfectly healthy and her deteriorating vision was caused by ongoing presbyopia. Presbyopia is a form of long-sightedness caused by loss of elasticity of the crystalline lens of the eye. This condition occurs typically in middle age, but as we move into the digital age we often see it occurring from the early thirties. As we use more and different digital devices we are seeing presbyopia present in clients much earlier. This observation is supported by many optical professionals “Presbyopia or loss of the accommodating power of the lens, which mostly happened around the age of 40, has started occurring quite early among the people. Excess use of mobile phones causing it early by making the eye lens harder and making it lose elasticity. The result is a gradual worsening of the ability to focus on objects up close,” said Mahipal Sachdev, Chairman of Centre for Sight (CFS)*. According to the World Health Organisation, more than a billion people in the world were presbyopic as of 2005, while the number had doubled in 2015. We dispensed Amy with a pair of i-focus plus Freeform Digital Single Vision lenses by Lenstec which combine ergonomics and aesthetics providing the very best optical performance available and provide a little extra magnification to the lower third of the lens. Each lens is unique and takes into account the wearers prescription, pupil position and the 3D shape of the selected frame. By providing Amy with clear vision when using her desktop computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone and paperwork. This adaptable clear vision gives Amy a perfect visual solution adapted to her individual needs. Amy of Splat Training uses Allegro Optical Opticians in Meltham and Greenfield These lenses are normally used as single vision lenses providing increased performance at work with slight reading support. On this occasion, we dispensed these lenses with Amy’s computer or intermediate prescription in the top of the lenses and used the power boost in the lower section of the lens to help with closer work. This approach gave Amy a useable correction at all her working distances, helping with that all important administration.

Amy can see the world…and the map

When asked about her new glasses Amy Said “And don’t forget the map reading – It’s easy to get lost when you can’t see the map, now I can read the map and see the world at the same time, it’s a joy. Service was wonderful too, Thank you Allegro” With the digital world rapidly expanding beyond the desktop computer and around 32% of the population in the age range of 35–50 years spending an average of 9 hours on digital devices each day, it’s not surprising that more and more thirty-somethings are reporting symptoms of digital eye strain and showing signs of presbyopia*. We know that not everyone wants to move into varifocals but find that reading glasses are no longer working at all the different working distances they need. If you are finding using digital devices and reading small print challenging give us a call on 01484 907090.   *https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/mobile-phones-causing-presbyopia-at-an-early-age-doctors/53593478?redirect=1 https://www.dovepress.com/evaluahttp://*https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/mobile-phones-causing-presbyopia-at-an-early-age-doctors/53593478?redirect=1tion-of-binocular-function-among-pre–and-early-presbyopes-with–peer-reviewed-fulltext-article-OPTO *https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/mobile-phones-causing-presbyopia-at-an-early-age-doctors/53593478?redirect=1  
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Connect 4 – eye tests, opticians, 3D OCT scans and dementia in Meltham

How our 3D OCT eye scanner can help us see so much more

In July this year the BBC and many national newspapers reported how,  “A simple eye test carried out by opticians could help predict who is at risk of developing dementia, a study suggests.”* The articles in the papers talked of a new report that explored the link between retinal thickness and mental functions such as memory. During the research  30,000 UK adults, aged 40 to 69 were studied. The people with the thinnest retinas were 11% more likely to fail a series of memory tests and reasoning assessments. As early as 2016 researchers at Moorfield eye hospital were looking into the link between retinal thickness and poor memory⍡.  Participants in the study completed a series of memory test, during which their reaction times and reasonings were recorded. The results of the tests were compared to measurements taken using optical coherence tomography scans (OCT) which records the thickness of the retina. 3D OCT eye scans from Allegro Optical Opticians in Meltham

Moorfield’s study

The study found a significant association between a thinning of the retina and poor cognition skills. The retina was found to be thinner among participants who had an abnormal result to at least one of the memory tests. The retina also appeared one-micrometre thinner for each additional memory test failed. Dr Fang Ko of Moorfields, said: “Our findings show a clear association between thinner macular  retinal nerve fibre layer and poor cognition in the study population.” The Moorfields team suggest the latest findings could lead to people being screened for dementia as part of an individual’s regular eye check-up. Dr Clare Walton, Research manager at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Changes in the brain associated with dementia can begin several years before any memory symptoms appear. This research suggests that some of these changes happen in the retina of the eye too, which could give us a relatively easy, non-invasive way to spot them early. Eye tests are fairly common for older people, so there is great potential to incorporate additional tests into their regular check-up. These tests could help to identify people at risk of dementia who would benefit from further investigation but will not become a primary way to diagnosis the condition.” At Allegro Optical Opticians we have a brand new 3D optical coherence tomography (OCT)  which we use to literally see through the retina. Allowing us to assess the health of the tissue around the eye and to measure the thickness of all the retinal layers. While screening for dementia is still very much in its infancy our 3D OCT Scanner can show signs of many other conditions such as;
  • age-related macular degeneration.
  • glaucoma.
  • central serous retinopathy.
  • diabetic retinopathy.
  • vitreous traction
Allegro Optical Opticians are the only optical practice in Meltham to own a 3D OCT eye scanner providing you with even better eye care

Who can the 3D OCT eye scanner help?

The 3D OCT is an advanced eye scan for people of all ages. Similar to an MRI or CAT or ultrasound scan for the eyes, it uses light rather than sound waves.  Illustrating the different layers that make up the back of the eye. The major benefit of this amazing state of the art machine is that it allows our optometrists to see through the back of your eye. Creating a three-dimensional image literary looking beneath the surface of the regular retinal image. Never before, has it been easier to find out the exact state and location of a particular eye condition. Our 3D OCT scans are available to everyone and it takes just a few seconds.  It is completely non-invasive and non-contact. There are no sudden flashes of light and certainly no puffs of air. If our optometrists see any areas of your eye that appear unusual they can then be measured with the OCT. These areas can either be monitored over time with additional scans and at a later date. Or we will refer for further investigation. All of these scans can be lined up with the original and compared to see if any changes have occurred over time. Allegro Optical is the only opticians in Meltham to have a 3D OCT scanner By performing 3D OCT eye scans we are able to identify any potential problems at a much sooner, allowing for better treatment options and a better visual outcome. Our appointment times are longer than most so you can trust us with your eye care. Call 01484 907090 and book your thorough eye examination today. Allegro Optical is a registered Dementia Friendly business.
Further reading
*https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-44936752 https://www.rnib.org.uk/nb-online/eye-test-early-dementia https://www.rnib.org.uk/eye-health/sight-loss-other-medical-conditions/dementia-and-sight-loss *https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5985545/How-going-simple-eye-test-opticians-spot-DEMENTIA.html https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5742098/
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Specialist lenses are our speciality

Hobbies often require specific equipment, even glasses

At Allegro Optical Opticians in Meltham, we like to think a little “Out of the box”. We know that a “one size fits all” approach often fails to produce an optical solution that performs well at all distances. It is very rare for one pair of spectacles to provide adequate performance for all the demands of today’s busy lifestyles. Particularly for the over 50s. We see clients every day wanting specialist lenses. Mostly they want musician’s spectacles to help them with their profession or hobby. But recently we have seen an increase in Hobbyists attending our practice, wanting an optical solution when crafting.

In fact, many of our staff are very “crafty.” 

Our Optometrist, Claire is an avid crafter, enjoying hobbies such as knitting and card making. Receptionists Josie and Jill both enjoy a spot of crafting with Josie producing some amazing quilts and applique, while Jill creates some fabulous chocolate creations and is a creative mind behind the amazing window displays in Meltham. So needless to say our team really do understand the visual requirements of the crafter. A crafty Solution Recently we were visited by a lovely lady Diane Whitehouse, she enjoys paper crafting,  cardmaking and more recently painting. In fact, she is showing her work in her first exhibition experience during November and December. The exhibition will be in Hebden Bridge at the Xpresso Arts Studio Annual Show. The exhibition is being held at the Hebden Bridge Visitors Centre from 1st November to 31st December. Diane WHitehouse is exhibiting her work at the Xpresso Arts Studio Annual Show Although an experienced varifocal wearer, Diane was finding that her varifocal lenses didn’t provide a large enough area for her crafting. She was struggling to focus at the distances her hobbies required for any length of time. As a result, Diane had cut back on it. The more time spent working at mid-distance, the more risks of developing eyestrain and other symptoms similar to those of computer vision syndrome. That’s because while crafting, the eyes remain focused and perfectly aligned at a specific distance for long periods of time. Tiring the eyes much more quickly than reading a magazine or newspaper. Paper, Scissors, Specs Diane explained her vision issues to Claire and she recommended some spectacles designed specifically for intermediate and close-up distances. Frequently referred to as computer or office lenses. Occupational or vocational lenses give the best correction for the distances associated with crafting and many hobbies. Diane Whitehouse will be exhibiting at the Xpresso Arts Studio Annual Show in Hebden Bridge visitors centre Diane took to her new lenses straight away. She found the wider area provided by them to be ideal for her hobbies. She said “Thank you for introducing me to Vocational Lenses. As you know I do a lot of paper crafting, cards and the like. Having a separate pair of glasses with Vocational Lenses has helped enormously with this hobby. Indeed with any close and short distance work. So much so that I have expanded my interests into painting and have my first exhibition exposure in Hebden Bridge in November. Thank you for helping me cope with this new interest which gives me so much pleasure.” The team at Allegro Optical know all about speciality eyewear — spectacle lenses designed specifically for certain tasks — You could say it’s our speciality!  So if you’re struggling with certain tasks and your varifocals aren’t quite suitable for the job in hand give us a call on 01484 907090 and chat to one of our team.