Burbage Bands musicians are blowing in harmony thanks to Allegro
Some people say things come in threes and that is certainly true for Burbage Band’s first baritone Jeanne Henson. Jean visited Allegro Optical, the musicians’ optician on the recommendation of her friends and fellow band members, Tuba players Adrian Davis and David Harrison who had both visited us.
Varifocal wearer Jeanne was having problems with her spectacles. She was having to move them constantly to try and find an area of clarity within the lenses. For playing Jeanne used some single vision lenses prescribed for the music stand distance, but was unable to see the conductor. Adrian suggested that Jeanne should pay us a visit.
Following a thorough eye examination, we found Jeanne had a moderate hyperopic prescription, with quite a high near addition for her age. We measured her visual field and checked her ocular dominance. Ocular dominance is our preference to process visual input from one eye over the other. Assessing Ocular dominance is particularly important for musicians who play an instrument that partly obscures their visual field.
Near and Far
We dispensed a pair of varifocal spectacles for everyday wear and a pair of our Fogoto lenses for playing to enable Jeanne to see the music on the stand and the conductor. Jeanne collected her new glasses and she was delighted with her varifocals, but struggled with her music glasses.
We checked everything and found the lenses and prescription to be accurate. However, we then discovered that Jeanne’s dominant eye is only dominant in the distance, her ocular dominance switches at near distances. The dominance switch point is around 50 cm beyond the music stand distance.
Approximately two-thirds of the population are right-eye dominant and one-third left-eye dominant. But very few have different dominance at near and distance tasks, Jeanne was one such musician. Adding the alternating dominance issue to the fact that the baritone obscures part of Jeanne’s right visual field we had our work cut out.
A balanced solution
We remade Jeanne’s spectacles taking into account the changing ocular dominance, weighting the left lens for distance and the right for near, taking into account the obscured field in that eye. We carefully balanced both lenses to give as wide a field as possible at the music stand. The result was perfect, giving Jeanne clear vision of the music and the conductor. She can now see clearly without her alternating ocular dominance causing any problems. Even though the instrument partially obscures the music on the stand for the right eye. Jeanne was delighted and pleased that we had been able to resolve the dominance issues. Giving her clear vision at all performing distances.
Having collected her new glasses Jeanne decided to buy a pair for marching. We made a pair of glasses with refractive powers calculated for the position of the lyer. We designed the lenses to enable her to see her music clearly while marching and playing. Jeanne collected the new glasses after returning from holiday. She was very happy with the result. The only problem now is, she has no excuses for playing incorrect notes!
Jeanne said; ‘Until I visited Allegro Optical and met Sheryl Doe, I had no idea that it was possible to cover all the different optical variants required as a musician who wore glasses. Now that I have glasses for all situations and distances it is a real treat to be able to see everything I need to, even the face of the conductor when he glares at me!’
This case study illustrates how frustrating presbyopia can become for many musicians. Focusing at the many different distances becomes very problematic. As was Jeanne’s case many musicians struggle with the varying focal distances required of the amateur and professional. Some musicians suffer from postural problems, often caused by their deteriorating vision as they try to compensate for this reduced visual clarity.
With an understanding of the playing and seating positions of musicians, these vision problems can be overcome. The musicians working and playing life can then easily be improved. Many Musicians who experience focusing problems at different distances are unaware that there is a solution to their vision problems.
Unique lenses for unique people
Frequently Optometrists and Opticians either prescribe and dispense single vision lenses for the music stand. Some do dispense Computer or Occupational lenses, acknowledging the musicians varied focusing points. Unfortunately, these lenses don’t give enough depth of field. Some opticians even claim these occupational lenses to be specialist music lenses!
Do you need help?
If you are a musician looking for help from an optician check out their website. Do they have evidence of the work they do with musicians? Do your research beforehand and always use a specialist with a proven track record. Look out for blogs and case studies for the evidence that they can do what they say. To be honest a good specialist sports lens will be able to provide a better solution for some musicians than any occupational or vocational lens can. Musicians use their eyes in a very similar way to sporting professionals.
At Allegro Optical we design all our musicians’ lenses individually and they are manufactured to our own unique format. In fact, our senior dispensing optician and co-founder Sheryl has recently been awarded the title “Dispensing Optician of the Year 2019” for her work in this field. Other Opticians and Optometrists frequently contact Sheryl when needing help with a musician they have seen in their practice.
Always check that the lenses you are prescribed are designed for the intended purpose. Please be aware that leading lens manufacturers DO NOT make lenses designed specifically for musicians. If it’s musicians’ lenses you need call Allegro Optical in Meltham, Holmfirth on 01484 907090. Or Allegro Optical in Greenfield on 01457 353100