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Coming together in Lockdown

Lockdown, how being apart has brought us together

We’re now several weeks into lockdown, with “the good old days” starting to feel somewhat nostalgic. Just like a warm and comforting distant memory.  The Allegro Optical team have been filling their lockdown days with a combination of music-making, looking after their families and in Josie’s case, still working in the background keeping our accounts and admin department together.  To be honest, the prospect of closing our practices left Sheryl and Amy having a bit of a meltdown. The prospect of not going to work horrified them both. Neither relished the idea of either working from home, or being furloughed. Now there’s a word none of us had used before March. It now trips off the tongue with alarming familiarity. In early March’ all the social distancing, sanitising everything, hand-washing to the tune of Happy Birthday, were by then the norm and fairly easy to cope with. Even when the glazing lab shut down with less than 24 hours’ notice, resulting in huge delays to jobs currently on order, we soldiered. Providing essential, urgent and emergency eye care and repairs only.  Many of our team viewed the prospect of weeks of lockdown with only their nearest and dearest for company with dread. As we all listened to prime minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on that first Monday evening we all realised life was about to change in a way none of us could ever have imagined. 

How we are coping

The business implications of the lockdown have been a challenge and daunting to say the least. With all of us worrying about our livelihoods and our family’s well being. We have had to try to work out how to keep Allegro Optical running successfully. Protect our employee’s jobs, and continue to be there for our customers. However, as the lockdown continues and we all begin to feel the effects of the virus in our lives. The mood is now one of deeply felt solidarity.  Luckily we have always been pretty adaptable. Now a few weeks in, a fair few of us are counting our blessings.  Firstly, Sheryl and I have been given the time to review our business. We’ve looked at implementing some changes.  Maybe even change Allegro Optical’s business model going forward. Obviously we will continue to give the excellent service we have become known for. Secondly, by closing the practices to the public, Sheryl has been able to get out and help our clients. Many of whom have in the past struggled to get into us. Often because of mobility issues or poor health. It has been an honour and a privilege to be able to help our more vulnerable clients at a time of real need. Sheryl has really enjoyed the opportunity to help these clients.  Many of whom are self-isolating and don’t see anyone for days on end. Even from a safe distance, they have appreciated the contact. Sheryl running errands   Thirdly, the musical members of the team, myself included, have embraced the opportunity to make music. We have shared the results and paid tribute to all the amazing key workers keeping our country going at this difficult time. James has made some fabulous Acapella videos which we have shared on social media. He was even featured by the Oldham Chronicle following his first video. 

Zoom away while staying at home

Our team has all kept in touch thanks to Zoom and a team WhatsApp group which we will probably continue to use long after the lockdown has lifted. In a way, these virtual get-togethers seem to have helped cement us as a team and have helped the teams from both practices to come together as one. I believe that the staff team are now a closer-knit community than they have ever been. Allegro Optical Zoom away   After the initial adjustment, and as we have all adapted to the restrictions lockdown brings, the possibilities going forward seemed almost endless.  
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Hypermetropia, long sightedness what exactly is it

Amy-and-Sheryl-in-masks we're back

Optometrist Amy Ogden explains Hypermetropia or Long Sightedness  

Hypermetropia (which actually, we shorten to hyperopia), occurs when either the cornea (the clear window that covers the iris) is too flat, or the eyeball itself is shorter than normal. This means, the light rays we need to be focussed at the retina, are instead focussed behind it. Allegro Optical Opticians in Saddleworth, vision disorders Myopia, Hyperopia Astigmatism, normal vision

What does this mean for the hyperopic person?

Usually, unless the level of hyperopia is very high, distance objects are seen clearly, whereas near objects appear blurred.   When we view an object up close, the lens in our eye changes shape. This increases its ability to bend light, this helps focus light from the near object onto the retina. For a person with small or medium amounts of hyperopia, the lens in the eye is able to change its shape to overcome some of the correction required when looking at a distant object. But it cannot change shape enough to provide the amount of focussing power needed for a near object.  If levels of hyperopia are very high, then vision at all distances may appear blurred. This is because the lens cannot provide the focusing power required for either. Hyperopia is an eye focusing disorder (refractive disorder – it is not a disease). 

Symptoms 

Symptoms of hyperopia are specific to a person, but the ones I see most commonly are;
  • Difficulty with reading and computer work
  • Headaches after prolonged near work, or when at school (but not at the weekends)
  • Squinting to focus 
As I have mentioned above, due to children having a very flexible lens in their eye, they may not have any symptoms of blurred vision, as they are able to focus light onto their retina. In using the lens in the eye, instead of glasses, to focus light on the retina for distance objects, this causes headaches and eyestrain. This is due to the amount of extra work undertaken by the eye.

How we test for it

Hypermetropia can be picked up as part of your routine sight test. We use a comprehensive range of tests to do so. Using a retinoscope and monitoring the reflex shone back to us can give an indication on any signs of hyperopia. This will allow us to pinpoint a baseline prescription. Using techniques such as binocular refraction (if required), binocular balancing or a plus one blur test, can help us to refine the prescription further.  Due to children having a very flexible lens, it is sometimes more difficult to pinpoint the amount of hyperopia in them. This causes a problem when we are trying to prescribe glasses. We try to prevent the eye from overworking, thus stopping eyestrain and headaches.  If hyperopia is suspected, but the amount can not be determined, cycloplegic eye drops can be used to help relax the lens. This allows us to determine the full amount of prescription required. If glasses are required, your optometrist will talk you through how they work. They also also tell you what they are to be used for. However, I only use them when absolutely necessary. 

Treatment 

Once we have your prescription (the amount of refractive correction required), we can then discuss how to help correct it, and how to help with the symptoms.  For small amounts of hyperopia, we may just advise glasses for concentrated work. This can include things like homework, reading, computer, playing music, painting etc. For higher amounts of hyperopia, we would prescribe glasses for full-time wear. There is also an option of contact lenses, but this would be at the Optometrist’s discretion.  Laser eye surgery is also another form of refractive correction, but this is something that would need to be discussed depending on the prescription, patients suitability, and would ultimately be at an Ophthalmologist’s discretion.  There is no best method of correction, it varies on a patient to patient basis, depending on the circumstances. I always get asked if exercises can cure hyperopia – the answer is no, there is not enough science-based evidence supporting this, the same also applies for the suggestion that a vitamin or a tablet can “ cure” someone of hyperopia too.    
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Coronavirus (Covid-19) Update

Allegro Covid-19-response - o zone generators

COVID – 19 Update

In line with the most recent public health control measures regarding Coronavirus Covid-19.  We have made a number of immediate changes to the delivery and operation of our optometry services.  In line with NHS guidelines we have suspended all routine optical services until advised otherwise. The definition of a routine service is when the client is not complaining of any new symptoms or loss of sight.  We will be providing urgent and essential services by telephone only. This includes:
  • Essential eye care

    Routine eyecare will no longer be delivered under General Ophthalmic Services (GOS). This includes but is not limited to appointments for patients who would not normally be considered to be emergencies. But where, in the practitioner’s professional judgement, a delay in an examination may be detrimental to a patient’s sight or wellbeing. This may include where clients have broken or lost their glasses or contact lenses and need a replacement pair to function. If you have broken your glasses or need an urgent supply of contact lenses please call Saddleworth on Greenfield 01457 353100 or Holmfirth on Meltham 01484 907090
  • Urgent or emergency eye care

    Urgent or emergency eye care will be provided via the NHS or privately and is will be available for our Oldham and Saddleworth clients by calling 0161 678 7312 and for our  Meltham, Huddersfield and Holmfirth clients  by calling 01484 659119

What to expect

On calling these two numbers you can receive clinical advice or intervention e.g. for sudden changes in vision, flashes and floaters, red sore eye, contact lens discomfort, foreign object, eye pain or discharge. Both Essential eye care and Urgent or Emergency eye care is provided via a telephone triage system. When we are busy we ask that you leave a message with your contact details. One of our team will get back to you as soon as possible. If you require access to emergency eye care outside office hours, please call NHS Direct on 111