Keeping music in the community in 2020It has been known for some time that group singing can provide many positive benefits, both physical, emotional and social. For those suffering with Parkinson’s Disease, it can increase vocal strength, breathing and swallowing control. Research in both music therapy and neuroscience has shown that music synchronizes neural activity, improves cognitive motor responses, sensorimotor, and speech / language symptoms~.
It’s more than just the shakesParkinson’s is so much more than just the “Shakes”. It can strike at any age, Abi’s GodMother was just 28 years old when she was diagnosed with the disease in the late 1990’s. Things have come a long way since then. But while there are now better symptom controls there is still no cure. Parkinson’s disease is different with each person, it affects the muscles and can take away the ability to move. It can affect any group of muscles including the facial and eye muscles. Parkinson’s Disease can affect the ability to make facial expressions, to focus, to swallow and speak. Making music and singing can almost be thought of as the ideal therapy for those diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Singing and music making is well known to aid brain functions as it places unique demands on the nervous system. Leading to a strong coupling of perception and action mediated by sensory, motor, and multimodal integrative regions distributed throughout the brain* Music making is also thought to promote the brain’s neuroplasticity. It has also been well documented that both contrast sensitivity and colour discrimination, can be affected early in course of parkinson’s disease. These changes in contrast sensitivity and colour vision and tend to be quite subtle early on, but ultimately tend to progress. Poor contrast sensitivity has also been associated with an increased risk of falls as the condition progresses.
On SongSinging combines exercise, creativity, fun, teamwork and most importantly, friendship. Long time Allegro Optical client and friend Liz Ryan says “singing is a bit like physiotherapy – in terms of the positive effects it can have for voice, lungs, posture etc”. Liz is one of the founders of the On Song Choir for Parkinson’s Sufferers which meets every Wednesday at 1 pm in the Salvation Army Hall in New Hey. Liz said “Following diagnosis we each find the best way to face the future. Singing is accessible, achievable and – can make a huge difference. Many of our musical clients support and promote the choir, which is conducted by none other than Emily Reeves-Bradley who visited Allegro Optical earlier this year. Emily also conducts Honley Girls Choir and Honley Ladies Choir, who recently performed at Huddersfield Town Hall with BGT winners Collabro. We were lucky enough to attend the performance. It was a pleasure to hear all the ladies, including Liz, sing with series eight champions.
We will be singing for more than their supperIt is our pleasure to support the choir and to name the On Song Choir as Meltham’s community group of the year for 2020. We will be holding a number of awareness and fundraising events throughout 2020 to help promote this inspiring group of people who we are proud to consider friends. s://www.thegeorgecenter.com/ *https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2996135/ #Anang JB, Gagnon JF, Bertrand JA, Romenets SR, Latreille V, Panisset M, Montplaisir J, Postuma RB. Predictors of dementia in Parkinson disease: a prospective cohort study. Neurology. 2014 Sep 30;83(14):1253-60. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000000842. Epub 2014 Aug 29.
Merry Christmas, be it Hurrah or Humbug
IT’S CHRISTMAS! Well actually it has been in my house for the last 30 days. The tree went up on the 24th of November, controversial I know! (Is November too early?) I’m Christmas mad, so I’m a little biased about when the Christmas decorations should go up. I love decorating the tree, baking Christmas cakes and putting up my Christmas lights in my windows. I love wrapping presents and listening to Christmas music of course! I absolutely love Christmas music and how it gets me in the mood for Christmas. It just makes me feel all warm, fuzzy and Christmassy! Nothing will ever beat the feeling of listening to that first Christmas song every year, I love it! Although after a conversation with Mummy dearest (Sheryl to all you though, don’t call her Mummy that’d be weird) anyway… I’ve come to realise recently that not everyone quite enjoys the Christmas music as I do.
Now my Mum and Dad aren’t HUGE Christmas lovers like me, but when I told Mummy dearest (again Sheryl to you, DON’T CALL HER MUMMY!) that I was feeling very festive after listening to Christmas music all day, her response was not one of festive nature. I have to say it puzzled me. Growing up we always had Christmas music playing throughout December, so I enquired why the un-festive nature she had towards Christmas music. I’ll be honest her response and Steve’s definitely made me feel a little less festive for them too.
I realise not everyone loves Christmas music on repeat 8 hours a day for 5 weeks straight (odd I know). But I suppose I never thought of all the people who have no choice but to endure Christmas music on repeat 8 hours a day for up to 12 weeks straight. So, spare a thought for the musicians! Because they not only have to listen to Christmas music constantly for up to 12 weeks, they have to play it too!!! I mean I love Christmas, but I guess hearing and playing jingle bells in a freezing cold train station every weekend on the lead up to Christmas can dampen anyone’s love of Christmas music. Not to mention endless private and corporate Christmas functions, where the band play a programme of festive cheer. Every week for up to 5 weeks before the big day. No wonder she says she’s rather have an early night than deck the halls!
Time for a well earned rest
Spare an extra thought for Sheryl (you know Mummy dearest) and the members of her band. They’ve been playing jingle bells since bloomin’ September in her wellies and strappy top, with their sun hats on in the sunshine. I’d like to point out they’re not barmy, they didn’t pull out their instruments to blast out some Christmas tunes in full sun. They were in fact playing a harvester song at the local allotments for the school Harvest Festival. The song is called Leaves Are Falling with the song being sung to the tune of jingle bells! Played in September!!!!
As for Steve, well he’s been composing and arranging Christmas music since the end of the summer. He’s been busy putting Kippax Band through their paces and making sure their Christmas offering sounds traditional, tuneful and toe tapping for all the right reasons. With their last on Sunday, just before Christmas it’s been almost a full time job in itself.
The BIG DAY is here
So now that the big day is finally here, the Allegro Optical team are all either celebrating or putting their feet up. We will be back in store once again on Friday and Saturday should you have any urgent optical needs.
The team is going to be taking some well earned time off over the New Year period, so keep an eye (pardon the pun) on our website and social media for those all important opening times.
I hope you all have a Very Merry Christmas full of joy and cheer. Don’t forget if any of you need help seeing or hearing the music this Christmas, just call “The Musician’s Optician”.
Just pop in to our practices in either Greenfield or Meltham. Alternatively give the teams a call, you can chat to James, Claire or Sara in Greenfield by calling 01457 353100. If Meltham is closer for you call Amy, Gemma, Jill, Josie, or Sheryl on 01484 907090.
As the leaves begin to fall, we look at Allegro Autumn and the music
OctoberAs autumn arrived we were still keeping busy helping musicians to see the music. During October we helped two Clarinetists, two violinists, a Cellist, a Guitarist, a saxophonist, a Television Presenter, a Pianist, a French Horn Player, a String Bassist, a cornet player, a Tuba player, a Trombonist, an oboist and two conductors. Choreographer George Balanchine famously said; “See the music, hear the dance”. But what does a musicians do when they can no longer see the music they have to play? That was a question violinist Richard Bottom asked himself when he moved desks. Richard plays for Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra and began to struggle with the symptoms of presbyopia when he moved his position within the ensemble. Suddenly Richards eyes we’re giving him clear vision of the music. Following the eye test with optometrist Sara Ackroyd, Richard then had a meeting with Dispensing Optician Sheryl. She dispensed Richard with our Fogotto lenses to give the best field of view, especially as his head movement is limited when playing the violin. When looking from the music on the desk up to the conductor, Richard can only move his eyes. He also needs to be able to see the music on the desk of the player in front of him. On trying the new lenses Richard was delighted and very confident.
Thumbs upA few days later a group of us from Allegro Optical went to see Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra with an evening of Magic and Reimagining; featuring Prokofiev, Suite from Lieutenant Kije. While there the team caught up with Richard during the interval and asked him how he was getting on with his new glasses. He said; “They are fantastic! Slaithwaite Phil are renowned for taking risks with the programmes they perform and the complexity of some of the music we tackle means you have to be able to see not only the music on the stand but everything else going on around. Two of the pieces we played tonight were new to me and, for the first time for ages I have been able to become totally absorbed in the music and performance because I haven’t been struggling to see. Considering I only picked the glasses up two days ago that is quite remarkable“
EEb Bass Player Peter plays in MonoIt’s always nice to catch up with a musical friend and EEb Bass player Peter Minshull from Cheshire has become just that. Having visited Allegro Optical in the past and being one of our early clients purchasing a pair of specialist musicians glasses. It was lovely to see him again when he visited us for his yearly check.
It’s not always better in stereoPeter who is presbyopic, also has a strong right eye dominance, the tendency to prefer visual input from one eye to the other. This is a bit of a challenge for an EEb Bass player. The large bell of the instrument partially obscures his field of view. This means he has to read the music with his non dominant eye. This can present as his right eye was dominating his vision and his brain was processing the right image by preference. We resolved this by suppressing Peter’s dominance. Preventing the right eye from disturbing his vision of the music on the stand. We dispensed a monocular solution which allowed Peter a clear view of the conductor. In his right lens we also gave him a little notation field to the bottom of the lens. While in the left we concentrated on giving the widest field at music stand distance. Both lenses are fully personalised freeform lenses, manufactured using the latest digital ray-path technology, to maximise visual performance.
An excellent resultThankfully Peter adapted really quickly. After an initial adjustment period to his new prescription, his vision seemed to settle very quickly. All our musicians lenses come with a full guarantee, just like all varifocals. If it isn’t perfect the first time, we will change the design until it is. Peter was back at the practice a couple of weeks later when his wife came to collect her new glasses. While there he commented on the wide field of view he has of the music on his stand. We asked him how he was getting along with his new glasses and he said; “I was becoming increasingly frustrated by High Street opticians who could only offer what they called ‘work’ glasses (intermediate/long distance varifocals) which did not work for reading music and seeing the conductor clearly. When I met Sheryl at the Blackpool area band contest it was a ‘no-brainer’. To go to an optician who not only understood the problems musicians have, but are very capable of solving these problems. My latest glasses work very well – when I first started using them it was obvious that I was using my left eye to read the music, rather than my right eye which I had previously. However, having used them for a little while now I have become accustomed to them. I now don’t notice which I eye I am using. All I notice is that the music is always in focus no matter what size of the print.”
NovemberAs the time ticked by and the festive season loomed ever nearer we kept busy looking after two more Clarinetists, a Saxophonist, a Baritone player, a Pianist, a conductor, two Tuba Players, three Cornet players, a Flautist, a Trombonist, two Dancers and a Radio Presenter. We were busy, busy, busy!
Double trouble for a musical duo – A couples search for specialist musician’s glassesConductor and Tuba player Marcus Jones and his partner, Louise Crane rang to book an appointment together. Louise complained of some eye strain with her current glasses, she felt it was time to seek a new prescription. We dispensed Louise with specialist musicians glasses with lenses from our turba range, as she still has relatively low adds. We did however want to balance her vision as best we could to make playing, conducting and life in general as easy as possible. The higher add was given for her left and less accommodative eye. While we have kept the addition to a minimum for the dominant right eye. When asked about her new glasses Louise, who conducts the Middleton youth band and plays soprano cornet for the main band, said; “I’m loving my musicians glasses! I was a bit skeptical at first having always had a single vision lens. But the Allegro team took the time to carefully tailor my new prescription and lenses really well. The eye strain and headaches I was experiencing have completely gone and I can now see fine print and music much more clearly, highly recommended.”
The man in the middleNext in the chair was Marcus, current Music Director of Dove Holes Brass Band and talented Tuba player. Marcus is mildly short sighted and can see the music on his stand fairly well without his glasses. However taking specs on and off during rehearsals isn’t very practical. Like Louise we dispensed Marcus with two pairs of specialist musicians glasses. Both with Turba lenses to help with transitioning between the two working distances. When he collected his new glasses Marcus commented on how comfortable they were in comparison to his old tight fitting spectacles. In fact Marcus went on to say; “I’d recommend Allegro Optical Ltd to all glasses wearers musicians or not, their care and understanding goes above and beyond.” Thank you.
A very specific problem for a Trombonist who just wanted to see the music
Trombonist Graham just wanted to see the musicTrombonist Graham Palmer from Wiltshire laid down a very specific challenge for us. Graham told us that he was noticing that the staves on his sheet music were merging into each other. For non musical readers, a stave is a set of five horizontal lines and four spaces used in Western musical notation to represent a different musical pitch. Sight reading had become very problematic for Graham as trying to distinguish which line he should be playing was almost impossible. As musicians, we usually enjoy playing a new piece, but this was far from a treat for Graham.
The SolutionWe dispensed Graham with a pair of digital freeform lenses with prism. Specifically for music stand distance, incorporating a prismatic element. Graham found the new lenses to be better than the previous pair. He does still have to move his head a little, but his vision is much improved and he can enjoy making music again.
I heard from Graham a few weeks after he had received his new glasses and he said; “Simply put without Optical Allegro I would have had to stop playing. Two pairs of music glasses from a well known high street optician did not help. I was left feeling as if the end of my playing had arrived I contacted Optical Allegro. The difference was enormous! Nothing was too much trouble and they went that extra mile for me. Thank you Sheryl and all your staff for being so friendly, supportive and caring to both myself and my wife”.
Specialist musicians glasses help a very musical coupleMaking music is a wonderful thing and something that many couples love to share. Vivienne and Brian Murphy are no exception to this. Vivienne plays the clarinet and saxophone, while Brian’s instruments are the baritone horn, valved trombone and piano. While Brian has played the piano and baritone horn for some time, he had only recently taken up the valved trombone. The couple began making music together after they had retired and it’s a pastime they thoroughly enjoy. Mastering a new instrument is one thing. However, it is even more difficult when seeing the music on the stand is problematic. Vivienne and Brian first visited Allegro Optical opticians last year, having heard about our specialism with musicians. Vivienne is an experienced varifocal wearer. While they were fine for everyday visual tasks, they didn’t provide a good enough field of view when she was playing. Following a comprehensive eye examination, our Optometrist, who has some experience of playing the Saxophone herself, completely understood Vivienne’s predicament and was able to find a prescription to solve her focusing problems.
Annual CheckJump forward twelve months and Brian and Vivienne returned to Allegro Optical for an annual check. It was so nice to catch up and hear about what they are playing and how they are getting along. As musicians ourselves we like to hear what pieces people are working on about any concerts which they may have coming up. While we were chatting we asked Brian and Vivienne how they liked their music glasses. Vivienne said: “These glasses have helped me a lot with my music. I now no longer misread the notes as I did when using my varifocal’s. So they have improved my standard of play. I also was surprised to find that they are really useful when I use my computer.” Brian added; “I am very pleased with these glasses. They are particularly effective when I have to share a music stand in band practice.” December As de-icing the cars became an everyday occurrence and the festive decorations went up we continued to stay busy. With a stream of musicians from a few Faultists and Guitarists, a Cellist, a French Horn Player a few Clarinetists and two Pianists.
An Army musicians search for specialist musicians’ glassesAn accomplished clarinetist, Lorraine Bontoft has joined The Band of The Royal Logistic Corps. This is no small undertaking and requires an extensive training requirement and a good level of fitness. The band regularly undertake a varied programme of engagements, such as; regimental dinners, concerts, church services, parades and marching displays.
Lorraine needed to see the musicHaving always had relatively good vision Lorraine only needed to use glasses occasionally for close work. However, the varied focusing distance required of a military musician presented her with a problem which is very familiar to us at Allegro Optical. Lorraine needed to see her music on the stand, her conductor, her music on her lyre when in marching band and a good view in her periphery. When Lorraine visited her optician, they suggested she try varifocal lenses. Unfortunately this wasn’t ideal and she struggled to get along with them. Marching and playing proved to be exceptionally difficult. Having had three sight tests in four months Lorraine was at the end of her tether and she began to look for a solution on the internet. We will be featuring Lorraine’s case study here soon, so watch this space. Keep your eyes peels for more December case studies soon.
3D OCT – What is it and is it necessary? By Optometrist Amy OgdenHaving just finished my first full testing month (and what a busy month it’s been). I’ve decided to write a little introduction to my favourite bit of testing equipment, the 3D OCT machine. Often when you call to make an appointment to see one of the Optometrists, the 3D OCT scan will be mentioned and offered to you. Many people are unsure of what a 3D OCT Scan is. This is often overlooked, and their opportunity to utilise this wonderful medical technology is missed. I thought it would be a good idea to write a little introduction into why this equipment is so wonderful. What I use it for and the benefits of using it, as opposed to the fundus camera (I could go on all day, this is just the basics). OCT stands for Optical Coherence Tomography. Essentially it works by sending light rays to the back of the eye. Due to the layers of the retina having different reflective properties, the image formed is a greyscale image of the hypo and hyper reflective layers (near infrared light is used, so there is no likely damage to the eye). The principle is rather like an ultrasound scan as it is an echo technique. Only using light waves instead of sound waves. I can then see any abnormalities in each layer due to the differences in the reflective properties of tissues. For example blood usually casts a shadow, whereas exudates are hyper-reflective.
Why is this important?Our retina has 10 layers; Inner limiting membrane Retinal nerve fibre layer (RNFL) Ganglion cell layer Inner plexiform layer Inner nuclear layer Outer plexiform layer Outer nuclear layer External limiting membrane Photoreceptor layer Retinal pigment epithelium (RPE)
The Volk lensWhen I’m using my Volk lens (when you sit at the microscope), or my ophthalmoscope (when I use the hand-held microscope and get quite close), I can’t see all of these layers; I can’t see them all when I take a picture of the back of the eye with the fundus camera either. I can understand at this point if you’re wondering why this matters, what does it matter if I can’t see the photoreceptor layer? Or the retinal pigment epithelium? It is always useful to see these layers, even if they are healthy, to be sure they are and to have a baseline to refer to further down the line. Sometimes, you may be unaware of a problem or having unspecific symptoms, and seeing the OCT scan will bring a very subtle change to my attention, something that may only have manifested itself on a fundus picture or to me on Volk once further disease progression has occurred. For example in the photoreceptor layer, which I mentioned above, there could be changes that may be indicative of a condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa. In the RPE, this is where we can monitor for some of the signs of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and subtle changes in the pathology here can help us in determining if the Dry AMD changing to Wet AMD, this is important as Wet AMD is something we need to treat urgently, and fast diagnosis is key.
What can OCT test for?3D OCT is also useful test for those at risk of glaucoma, combined with the visual field screener, IOPs (pressure test) and the ocular examination, using the OCT is another tool in our belt to help as a diagnostic aid. This is because it provides a scan of the optic nerve head, and the macula and helps us to pinpoint any suspicious findings; this along with the tests mentioned above helps us keep on top of early detection and precise monitoring. OCT can also measure the drainage angle in the eye, this is important for a condition called angle closure glaucoma. (I’ve only used a handful of pathology examples here)
How is it performed?I know I mentioned an ultrasound above, and some of you will be thinking about the “jelly” used in those types of scans. Not for OCT. The OCT is very similar to the fundus picture without the “bright flash”. You sit at the OCT with your chin on the rest, and I will line you up with the lens. You will be asked to “look at the green cross” and will then be instructed to blink “freely and then keep your eyes open”, only for a short time, whilst the scan is completed. I will repeat this for the different types of scans you require, for both eyes. We will then go through all scans together and I will explain the findings. Should any further action need to be taken, we will make an action plan together.
The best bit?I can send a copy of these scans directly to the hospital should it be required. Which makes triage a lot more efficient.
Are OCTs compulsory?Absolutely not. They are not included as part of the NHS sight test and therefore are an optional extra. I think they are a brilliant bit of extra information to have, and a fabulous monitoring tool, but they are not compulsory for me to carry out a thorough eye examination, however if I feel that you would benefit from the OCT I will let you know, but the choice will always be yours!
Why our Optician Practice is making Social Progress
Last week I traveled over the hill from Saddleworth to Social Progress. Stephen and I made the short trip over to Honley to visit our friends at Social Progress for a training course on blogging, so this had better be a good one!
Social Progress are experts in social media training and management and they provide all the Allegro Optical staff with the very best training to ensure we are always on the ball with our social media. The training session was led by Esther Orridge, who spent 3 hours ensuring that we both completed the course. Esther made sure we both had the confidence and know-how to write good quality blogs. Keeping Allegro Optical ahead of the game in our online presence as well as in the test room.
I feel I am fast becoming a Social Progress veteran, as this was my 3rd SoPro course in 12 months. I have now completed courses on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and now this latest one on blogging. I’ve also successfully complete an Emergency First Aid at Work course with Purple Dog. I really enjoy learning new things and developing my existing skills.
We are very lucky at Allegro Optical as all our staff are provided with the skills, tools and resources to grow and develop our careers. Hopefully, you are already enjoying our regular blogs but we are sure that they will now be even better.
Keep an eye out in the New Year as we will be starting a regular vlog where we’ll be showing you around our practices, our frame selection and some of the equipment you can expect to be used when you come for your sight test.
Why all the training?
At Allegro Optical absolute perfection is the name of the game. As I’m sure you can tell, from the second you walk through the door, during your eye examination and choosing your glasses, it has to be right. When selecting your new glasses our dispensing opticians take many more individual measurements than most optical dispensers. We work as a team to give all our clients a high quality, bespoke pair of spectacles. Ones that will not only work great but look great too!
Experience award winning eyecare for yourself
To book your appointment with the quick and lively team at Allegro Optical call Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham 01484 907090 and experience award winning eye care for yourself.
Summertime, sunshine and musicAt Allegro Optical Opticians we specialise in helping musicians to see the music. As we mentioned before it has been a very busy year so we thought now was the perfect time decided to look back over the year. Here we have part three of our retrospective.
JulyWith the sun in the sky we were visited by two Pianists, a Violinist, a Baritone Horn Player, a Trumpeter, two Cornet Players, three Dancers, an Organist and an Instrument Maker and Repairer and . July was a bit of a quiet month.
Dean’s New Glasses Are The Right Tool for The JobFor the serious musician, music is more than just a hobby! For most of us it is our “passion”. Many of us are lucky enough to carve out a career in the music industry. Dean Pelling of Dean Pelling Woodwind and Brass is one gentleman who has made music his life. Born and bred in Hastings, Dean is an active member of the local music scene, having played the trumpet and cornet since the age of 10. Dean was experiencing the early symptoms of presbyopia. He also had an issue with convergence insufficiency, including symptoms such as blurred vision at the music stand, eye fatigue and frequent loss of place when reading music.
A search to see the musicFollowing an internet search, Dean discovered Allegro Optical and contacted us. There then followed a few conversations regarding lens options and the taking of some measurements remotely. Dean sent us his prescription and his own frame. He opted for the performers’ lenses, which we glazed with some base-in prism in addition to Deans prescription. We utilised the prism to help alleviate the symptoms of presbyopia and convergence insufficiency by using base in prism.
DispatchWe were able to glaze Deans prescription remotely without him having to travel up to the North of England, as we have built up a huge database of musicians lens designs, based on each instrument and many prescriptions. Dean is now able to maintain his focus on his sheet music on the stand. He can enjoy a wider field of view and still see the music and the conductor. We dispatched the new glasses to Dean as quickly as possible. Having used his new glasses for a few times Dean said; “Wow – what a difference the specs have made, I no longer have eye strain after a long rehearsal or gig. The only downside is that I can clearly see the conductor as well as the music!”
Clear vision is key for talented organistKeyboard player Andrew Smith has had an interesting musical career, to say the least. No stranger to the stage, Andrews early gigs were playing keyboards as part of a jazz-funk band during the 80s. During his mid-20s and 30s, Andrew had a career in education teaching music. He then moved into music production, finally returning to music, teaching piano and pipe organ in his late 50s. That was when Andrew’s problems with sight reading began. Andrew began to experience some difficulty in focusing on the manuscript, particularly when seated to the side of his students. A seasoned varifocal wearer, he found that the area of clear focus of the music on the stand was very narrow. This became problematic when trying to follow his students progress through the manuscript while they were playing.
The manualAndrew often plays on up to four manuals and needs a clear view of the music and all the organ stops. Also, the position of Andrew’s music stand can vary greatly. The music can be on a stand which is between 55cm and as far away as 95cm. The Fogotto lens design provides the very widest visual field in the mid area of the lens while providing a comfortable position for reading the music at any distance. A happy customer Having tried the lenses in various situations Andrew contacted us and said; “We are all often quick to complain and slow to praise, but I feel I have to acknowledge Allegro Optical and the incredible work you do. “It’s felt like a revelation to discover your incredible service. Why are you such a secret? As a teacher and musician, I have been frustrated by the limitations of my previous varifocal spectacles when reading music and teaching. Having visited quite a few opticians who all made promises they couldn’t keep I was always left disappointed. “I was so excited when I visited you, I was also surprised and delighted to find a beautiful piano in the opticians’ room. I can’t thank you enough for giving me my eyes back. My new glasses really work, not only when I’m playing and teaching, but in so many other situations as well. “The friendliness and warmth of all the staff also make a huge difference. Sheryl is so understanding and her experience and insight are much appreciated. Not only does she completely understand the needs of the musician she is an incredibly knowledgeable optician. I highly recommend Sheryl and all her team to any musician or teacher experiencing vision problems”.
Burbage Band Baritone Is Blown AwaySome 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 for help to see the music. 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. 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 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!’
AugustAs the school holidays ticked by and many opticians tested a steady stream of children, we saw a steady stream of musicians. These included two Cellists, a Trombonist, a Bassoonist, a French Horn Player, a Violinist, a Viola Player, a Clarinetist, an Oboist, a Conductor, and a Cor Anglais player
A Maestro’s ConsultationAs part of his role as Director of Music, Michael Downes conducts the St Andrews Chamber Orchestra and the St Andrews Chorus (Scotland’s largest choral society), and he founded and conducts Byre Opera. Michael has also lectured on opera and music for bodies including English National Opera and English Touring Opera; the Britten Sinfonia, BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Opera House and Scottish Chamber Orchestra; the Glyndebourne, Huddersfield Contemporary Music and Edinburgh International festivals. Music and the arts is Michael’s passion and he has dedicated his life to music education. But what would you do if your life’s work and passion were threatened by Presbyopia, a relatively simple and very common visual condition?
From Fife to YorkshireMichael traveled from Fife to Meltham for a consultation. The consultation begins with a detailed medical and ocular history and a thorough diagnostic evaluation. The team looked at Michael’s various working distances and angles and plotted a lens design to allow him to conduct both orchestras and choirs with ease. On occasions, Michael is required to conduct both an orchestra and a choir at the same time so a wide visual field is essential. The resultant lens design provides clear vision of the score on the conductor’s stand and a wide field of view for distance with no peripheral distortion allowing him to see all the sections of the orchestras and choirs. When Michael received his new glasses he was delighted and said; “In recent years I had been having increasing difficulty focusing both on the music and the performers, whether wearing contact lenses or any of the different types of glasses I had tried and particularly in the poor light that you find in many concert halls. The problem was becoming increasingly distressing and starting to distract me from the music that should always be one’s only focus of attention in a concert. Thankfully, as soon as I found Allegro Optical on the Internet, a solution was close at hand. Sheryl and her colleagues instinctively understand what a musician requires from eye-care, which is so different to most other sorts of work. The glasses they have prescribed me not only provide clear vision in every field I need, but are comfortable and light and allow me to communicate directly with the musicians without obstacle. And every single person I met at Allegro Optical was extremely friendly and helpful which made the trip to Yorkshire a very pleasant experience as well as an invaluable one for my work. I recommend them wholeheartedly to anyone experiencing similar problems.”
SeptemberIt was a busy month this month, possibly because it was Piano Month. We tested and dispensed three pianists, a Bassoonist, an Oboe player, a clarinetist, a violinist and a Saxophonist, all of whom wanted to see the music.
A Scottish Pianists journey to clear vision – From Perthshire to SaddleworthHaving had pretty poor eyesight all her life Muriel turned to laser surgery in 2005. She elected to undergo monovision correction and chose bilateral monovision LASIK correction. Muriel visited her usual optician in November 2018 but was unhappy with the solution provided. She returned in February and was dispensed with a pair of varifocals. While useful for daily tasks were unsuitable for playing the piano.
It was a long journeyMuriel then visited her optician for a third time in July and was dispensed with a pair of single vision glasses for driving. However these were not as clear as the varifocals. She was also provided with a pair of occupational lenses for music. But she couldn’t see the music without leaning forward considerably, which wasn’t practical. It seemed her optician was unable to help and at this point Muriel began researching musicians eyecare and discovered Allegro Optical. We are over 500 kilometers from Muriels’ home, but she decided to fly down for a consultation anyway. As a result of the bilateral monovision LASIK correction Gemma found Muriel needed uneven near and music stand additions. She also has a variable ocular dominance, as would be expected post LASIK.
A wide fieldPlaying a piano and sometimes the organ Muriel needs a very wide field of view. Her previous optician had tried to address this by dispensing Zeiss Occupational lenses. They felt the working distance of the lenses were the closest to Muriel’s needs. Sadly for Muriel they didn’t work as she had to keep leaning forwards to see the music in focus. Unfortunately Zeiss, like most large lens manufacturers don’t make lenses specifically for musicians. So it was always going to be a bit of a compromise. Even using the best of the ZEISS Office Lens portfolio with Maximum Intermediate Distance (M.I.D.) technology, the lenses didn’t work. To resolve Muriel’s vision problems and give her clear vision across four sheets of music and the ability to see her audience we had to create a lens design to her Muriel the widest possible field of view. We based her lens design on our Fogotto range of lenses but added an anamorphic component design to widen her field of view further. The term anamorphic derives from the Greek words meaning ”formed again.” This enables us to squeeze in more lateral vision. We also incorporated some prism assistance to help with fixation and fatigue when playing for long periods of time.
A specialist lensMuriels lenses are made from a 1.67 high index optical resin. This provides durability with minimal weight as she often plays for hours at a time. The last thing she needs is a heavy pair of spectacles weighing on her nose. As Muriel doesn’t always play alone, at times she needs to see her fellow performers, so we needed to produce the lenses in as wide but flattering shape as possible. Once fitted with her new glasses a few weeks later Muriel was delighted. She utterly surprised by the clarity her new spectacles provided. We even had a cheeky whisky to celebrate. When asked how she felt about her new glasses she said; “I just want you to know how THRILLED I am with all of my new glasses. My eyes feel very comfortable in the varifocals and later today I hope to have a long session at the piano to really test my (stunning) music glasses! Thank you again.”
Allegro Optical enjoys “Entente Cordiale” between Paris and SaddleworthWe receive quite a few enquiries through our website from frustrated musicians and a good number over the phone. Occasionally an enquiry gives us pause for thought and this was exactly what happened when Parisienne French Pipe teacher Agnes Lefebvere contacted us.
Agnes couldn’t see the musicAgnes explained that she was having real problems focusing, not on her music on her stand, but on that of her students. She had visited at least four optometrists. Always trying to try to find a pair of spectacles which met her needs Agnes was disappointed and frustrated. Agnes explained to us that she needed to read both music on her stand and her students. Having tried single vision glasses with a set point of focus for her music stand, a single focus pair for her students stand, varifocals and occupational lenses, all of which hadn’t worked, she was at her whits end. Increasingly frustrated, Agnes took to the internet. She set about trying to try to find a solution to her vision problems and found Allegro Optical. When she contacted us she explained her requirements and set out what she expected from a pair of “music glasses”. Agnes stands to the right of her students and often has to use two music stands, one in front of the student and her own. A feature of many French bagpipes is the position of the tenor drone. Located in the same stock as the chanter rather than alongside the bass drone. This places the student on the teachers left and can provide some visual challenges. Luckily our Managing Director Stephen Tighe has quite a few Bagpipe playing friends. So a few phone calls were made to old military band colleagues. Pipers don’t usually use printed music when marching. They tend to play from memory, so it was just the teaching problems to solve. Working with Agnes using Skype and watching her teach we came up with an interesting solution.
It’s all about approaching the problem from a musicians perspectiveWhat Agnes needed was a lens that weakened in dioptric power for her left eye. This would allow her to view her own music and her students. We dispensed Agnes with a single focus lens to her right eye for her music stand and one of our Fogotto lenses, rotated by 90 degrees to her left. The monocular solutions allow Agnes to read her own music while also being able to follow what her students are playing.
La PosteWe posted the new glasses to Agnes a couple of weeks later as they had been prefitted. We then waited to hear how she got on. It wasn’t long before Agnes contacted us saying; “My husband picked up my new glasses in the mail on Wednesday when we were not there when they tried to deliver them. The glasses are so much better than anything I’ve ever used before, thank you very much. I think I still have to move a little, but not as much as in previous pairs. Now I see the music of my students and my own desk much better. They are definitely better than my old glasses. I was a little afraid to buy glasses online, but I am very satisfied with the quality of frames and glasses. Your customer service is second to none and I will definitely be using your business again. I already recommended you to several friends. Thank you for your help.”
Why do musicians come to Allegro Optical?An independent family run business we are gaining an international reputation for professional excellence and an inventive approach to meeting customer needs. Now known internationally as the ‘Musicians Opticians’ we are attracting many clients from across Europe and further a field. Our groundbreaking work with performers, players and conductors has resulted in Allegro Optical becoming the first and only opticians to gain registration with the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM). We treat each client as an individual and it is true that no two musicians are the same. So why should their vision correction be? We enjoy creating unique lenses to meet a musician’s particular needs. As musicians ourselves we can ask the right questions and interpret the answers accordingly, helping more musicians to see the music.
Award-winning eye-careSo successful has Allegro Optical been in helping performers that this year alone. We have scooped no less than five national and regional awards. These awards include the National ‘Best New Arts & Entertainment Business of the Year‘ at a gala event in London. Managing Director Sheryl Doe was awarded the 2019 ‘Dispensing Optician of the Year‘. During March Allegro Optical was awarded the ‘Scale-Up Business of the Year‘ at the regional finals of the Federation of Small Business awards in York and went on to receive the FSB Chairman’s award at the national finals in May. Finally winning the FBU Yorkshire family business of the year. The company has been featured in many national publications including The Times 4BarsRest, The British Bandsman and Music Teacher Magazine. Are you are a musician who is struggling with their vision? Is making music is no longer the enjoyable experience it once was? If so call us at either Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090.
Friday the 13th doesn’t frighten usFriday the 13th is often considered to be an unlucky day. It can happen at least once every year but can occur three times in the same year. In 2015, for example, the 13th fell on a Friday in February, March, and November. The superstition surrounding this day could have arisen from the story of Jesus’ last supper at which there were 13 individuals present. The Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, estimated between 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by paraskevidekatriaphobia, a fear of Friday the 13th, making it the most feared day and date in history. That’s the polar opposite for us all at Allegro Optical opticians. Friday the 13th December is a very special day for all opticians, although some may not know it. December 13th is St Lucia’s day. St Lucia is the patron saint of those suffering from eye problems. She is frequently depicted carrying a plate with a pair of eyes on. This painting was purchased for the British Optical Association Museum in January 1939 attributed to Francesco Furini. It is now agreed to be an unlikely attribution. It could be English and from the studio of John Hoppner, as suggested by the College’s art restorer But if it is English the original of which it is a copy was almost certainly Italian.
St LuciaThis painting is just one example of depictions of Lucia whose name derives from the Latin for light. She is regarded as a patron saint of those suffering from eye trouble. Because some versions of her story tells that her eyes were removed, either by herself or by her persecutors, she is also the patron saint of the blind. As we said earlier St. Lucia’s Day is celebrated on 13th December every year. In particular in Sweden, Norway, and the Swedish-speaking areas of Finland to honour her as one of the earliest Christian martyrs. Lucia’s feast day is celebrated as a major element to the Advent season and she is remembered with glittering winter processions, drinking punch and singing seasonal songs. In some parts of Europe, notably Sweden the 13th December was traditionally thought to be the shortest and darkest day of the year (as in the poem by John Donne ‘A nocturnall upon S. Lucies day, Being the shortest day’). So it’s patron saint’s day for optical professionals, OK! But why else do we at Allegro Optical celebrate? Well December 13th also happens to be our managing director, dispensing optician, Sheryl Doe’s birthday. What a coincidence that this years Dispensing Optician of the year should share her feast day with that of her patron saint. And on a Friday too! So far from staying in bed all day, or trying to stay out of harm’s way Sheryl and the team will be celebrating what has been an incredible year, with 5 national and regional awards under our belts. It’s been a fantastic year for Sheryl and the team, you can guarantee she’ll be celebrating this evening.
‘Tis the year’s midnight, and it is the day’s,Lucy’s, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks; The sun is spent, and now his flasks Send forth light squibs, no constant rays; The world’s whole sap is sunk; The general balm th’ hydroptic earth hath drunk, Whither, as to the bed’s feet, life is shrunk, Dead and interr’d; yet all these seem to laugh, Compar’d with me, who am their epitaph.
Study me then, you who shall lovers beAt the next world, that is, at the next spring; For I am every dead thing, In whom Love wrought new alchemy. For his art did express A quintessence even from nothingness, From dull privations, and lean emptiness; He ruin’d me, and I am re-begot Of absence, darkness, death: things which are not.
All others, from all things, draw all that’s good,Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have; I, by Love’s limbec, am the grave Of all that’s nothing. Oft a flood Have we two wept, and so Drown’d the whole world, us two; oft did we grow To be two chaoses, when we did show Care to aught else; and often absences Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.
But I am by her death (which word wrongs her)Of the first nothing the elixir grown; Were I a man, that I were one I needs must know; I should prefer, If I were any beast, Some ends, some means; yea plants, yea stones detest, And love; all, all some properties invest; If I an ordinary nothing were, As shadow, a light and body must be here.
But I am none; nor will my sun renew.You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun At this time to the Goat is run To fetch new lust, and give it you, Enjoy your summer all; Since she enjoys her long night’s festival, Let me prepare towards her, and let me call This hour her vigil, and her eve, since this Both the year’s, and the day’s deep midnight is. Source *https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44122/a-nocturnal-upon-st-lucys-day
Dad recommended Amber visit Allegro Optical opticians in Greenfield, Saddleworth
We first saw Amber in October 2019 after her Dad recommended that she visit Allegro Optical opticians in Greenfield, Saddleworth. Amber currently works as a makeup artist providing Beauty & Makeup For Every Occasion. Either working on location or from Limited Edition Hair and Beauty Salon in Oldham, Amber had been using a green overlay supplied by her school to alleviate the symptoms of visual stress for some time.
In 2020 Amber will be going to university to study DNA and genetic diseases. For convenience she had been looking to have all her books printed on green paper, but doing this looked costly and wasn’t an ideal situation. Amber’s overlays can only be placed over written text and she would only feel the benefit of her coloured pages. Coloured spectacles will provide a tint for all tasks, such as reading the white board, using a computer and writing.
A logical process
First we tested Amber’s vision. Optometrist Sara Ackroyd conducted a full eye examination and found Amber to be mildly long-sighted. Amber also has a small astigmatism which benefited from correction. Sara then carried out a Wilkins Rate of Reading Test, using Amber’s overlay and without her overlay to assess the extent of her visual stress. Amber’s initial unaided Rate of Reading was 52 words per minute and 64 words per minute with her overlay.
Visual Stress is a form of perceptual processing disorders that causes reading difficulties. It can cause visual problems and headaches from exposure to patterns in text, such as lines of text. Visual Stress can be linked to dyslexia and similar visual learning difficulties. Sufferers often experience print distortion and fatigue when reading.
Why coloured lenses
There is a much wider choice of colours available through colorimetry. A specific tint may be selected, improving performance further. The colorimetry assessment is done using an instrument called the Intuitive Colorimeter. This allows the optometrist to specify the correct hue, transmission and saturation of the lens colour. Several studies have shown that sometimes the colour has to be very specific to work. Therefore precision tinted spectacles often work far better than overlays.
After the Colorimetry assessment, using the chosen lens colour Amber’s Rate of Reading increased to 72. Not only is she now able to read more fluently, she is also able to express her ideas on paper more easily too.
Following all the tests Amber met with Dispensing Optician Claire Atkinson. Claire helped her to choose a frame that would suit her facial features and fit well. Amber chose a frame from the Spanish clothing design house Mango as it fitted her well and complemented her features and colouring. It also worked really well with the lens colour.
Amber collected her new glasses a couple of weeks later. We caught up with her a short while after and asked her how she was getting along with them. Amber was very enthusiastic and said; “I was really nervous about getting glasses as I’ve never had them before but Allegro’s staff were really helpful and supported me to pick glasses which suite me and my personality. My coloured lenses are going to be a life saver at university and I was amazed to find I can read quicker with them than with the overlays I got at school. Even though I have only had them a few days the headaches I was experiencing when trying to focus have stopped. Amazing!”
Visual Stress & Colorimetry Clinics
Visual Stress and Colorimetry Clinics are now available at both our Greenfield and Meltham practices.
Please note: This is a private service and therefore is not covered under the NHS Optical Scheme. If you would like an information pack, or to book a visual stress assessment, call Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090 or complete our contact form and we will be happy to help.