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Now Yanna can see the music

A talented pianist’s search for help to see the music

In this blog, we look at how a talented and inspiring Pianist was helped by our specialist musicians’ glasses. Yanna is a fascinating woman, and it has been a pleasure to collaborate with her. Her music history encompasses the traditions of her family’s heritage, (Asia Minor) and the complexity of her musical background, as evidenced by a successful career as a teacher, concert pianist, conductor, and accompanist.

Yanna was born in Thessaloniki, Greece and is a proud citizen of both Greece and the UK. She grew up with a wide range of musical influences from her parents’ unusual musical interests that covered everything from Greek folk music and Theodorakis to Tchaikovsky and Bartok.

Time to TangoA person playing a piano

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From a young age, Yanna played the piano for her parents and their friends, reading from a piece of faded photocopied ‘fake’ sheet music with all the fashionable tangos, waltzes and ballads of the 1930s and 40s as they all sang in harmony.

Yanna is an experienced pianist and accompanist. In 1987 she was awarded the Dimitri Sgouros ‘Prize and Scholarship’ by the New Conservatory of Thessaloniki from where she graduated in 1988 with the ‘Diploma for Piano performance and teaching’. 

London Calling

She continued her piano and conducting studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where she was awarded the Cipriani Potter Exhibition prize during her second year as an ‘Advanced Studies’ student. She graduated with the ‘Diploma of Advanced Studies’ in 1990. Yanna moved to the US in 1991 where she gained her Master’s degree in ‘Piano Performance and Literature’ at the Eastman School of Music, Rochester NY U.S.A. in 1993.

After a 10-year worldwide concert career, Yanna settled in the UK where she raised a family, taught the piano privately and classroom music since 1993. Since 2018, Yanna is getting back to performing professionally and is currently preparing her first solo CD album which is due to be released in December 2022.

In 2018 Yanna co-founded ANIMO, a flute and piano duo, with her friend Sarah Waycott. Since 2019, she is the proud owner of a Gustav Klimt (Goldene Adele) Bosendorfer 214 VC which she has used for several recordings, Animo’s first and second CD albums and weekly Livestreams during the last few years.
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Yanna needed to see the music

Having always had a relatively high myopic prescription Yanna is an experienced spectacle wearer. However, the varied focusing distance required of a professional pianist was beginning to present her with the problems associated with presbyopia which are very familiar to us at Allegro Optical. Yanna needed to see her music on the stand, her musical collaborators and ideally a good view in her periphery.

Yanna first contacted Allegro Optical in February 2020, just before the COVI|D-19 crisis and the ensuing national lockdown.

She explained that she played a grand piano and had begun to struggle with blurry notes and indistinguishable shapes and lines. Yanna told us that when playing professionally and performing downlighters or overhead lighting reflected and displaced the image she saw. This caused all the notes to become blurry. The reading glasses that were made for her were impractical and her varifocal lenses gave too narrow a field of view.

Yanna booked her first appointment with Allegro Optical for Friday 27th March in Greenfield, Saddleworth. That was unfortunately postponed due to the first 2020 lockdown and Yanna didn’t get to visit us until September the same year. In the meantime, Yanna began having some issues with a retinal tear and was referred to Birmingham Midland Eye Center for further advice and investigation.

Following her discharge from the hospital in August 2020, Yanna contacted us again and we arranged an appointment in September of the same year.

A bit of a conundrum

The day of Yanna’s visit was an extremely busy day, with a very full clinic. Optometrist and flautist Amy carried out a thorough eye examination and noted Yanna’s complex ocular history and her many working distances. She then produced a prescription

covering all Yanna’s working distances and then introducing her to dispensing optician Sheryl.

Sheryl took all of Yanna’s facial measurements to help her find a frame that fitted perfectly, both in terms of comfort and performance. Well-fitted frames would provide the perfect mount for Yanna’s complex lenses. The frame also had to be practical but reflect Yanna’s unique style and work with her deep colouring. They also had to stay put while Yanna was playing. Little did the pair realise this meeting was to be the start of a long-time collaboration and Yanna now works with Allegro Optical to help us develop musicians’ eye care further and to raise awareness among performing artists of the need for specialist eye care.

Multiple distances require multiple solutions

After some discussion, Sheryl was concerned that including her correction for an elevated music stand in one pair, would compromise Yanna’s field of view and posture. To give the very best solution they settled on one pair of varifocals for everyday wear and another for use with a music stand.

Yanna opted for a Hook LDN HKS011 frame in Navy and Tortoise as the colours complimented her colouring, reflecting her personality while providing a comfortable fit and good lens size. We glazed these lenses with an individualised freeform varifocal in 1.74 index lenses with Transitions® Signature® GEN 8™, the first intelligent photochromic lens with their breakthrough nanocomposite technology that enhances photochromic performance and provides optimal vision, comfort and all-day protection.

Something for the piano

To provide the widest possible area for music (about 1.2 meters across and elevated) Sheryl dispensed a pair of spectacles with our Fogoto lenses to provide the widest and deepest field possible.

This time Yanna opted for a traditional yet iconic style of frame, choosing the Anglo American 313, HYBG. Again we decided to glaze these lenses with Transitions® Signature® GEN 8™. Yanna’s music room has a lot of glass with two huge windows. Glare is often a problem and a photochromic lens option appealed to her.

Things don’t always go to plan

When Yanna collected her new spectacles she was delighted with the varifocals, but it quickly became apparent that there was an issue with the right eye in the music spectacles. While the vision in her left eye was in her words “amazing” the music in the right side of her right eye appears blurred. We invited Yanna back for further investigation. Optometrist and Gospel Singer Gemma carried out a detailed eye exam and found that Yanna had some partial defects on her binocular visual field exam, possibly caused by some slight scarring. Yanna had developed a “Weiss ring”, a circular peripapillary attachment that forms following a Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD) from the optic nerve head. We then worked some prism into Yanna’s lens design to try to resolve the issue by moving the image she sees from the scarred area of the retina.

Yanna visited Birmingham Midland Eye Centre again in March 2021 but decided against vitrectomy surgery because of the risk of retinal detachment. In January 2022 Yanna felt she needed a change of glasses and she again travelled up to Meltham. This time she saw Optometrist and fellow pianist Liz. Liz conducted a 3D OCT examination which revealed a large mass of floaters from Yanna’s previous PVD in the right eye and a partial PVD in the left eye.

Time lapse

Since her last visit, we had invested in a Saccadic Clinical Eye Tracker allowing Liz to assess binocular function while the patient is sight-reading or making a series of saccades or performing other complex tasks. This was a game-changer for Yanna as the examination revealed her binocular vision to be a little unstable. Her fixation disparity varied and prisms now preferred the opposite to phorias. Liz also found that while the right eye was dominant in the distance Yanna was now left eye dominant near. The floaters in her right eye also seemed to be causing problems.

The trick now was to create a pair of spectacles that would help Yanna to continue playing despite all her vision problems. Sheryl designed a pair of lenses that would make the most of Yanna’s limited vision in her right eye. With a difference of nearly three diopters, there was a danger of double vision caused by differing image sizes. This was resolved by using different indices and asphericising the right lens to reduce minification. Using computer numeric control technology we were able to create a lens that minimised optical aberrations giving Yanna the best vision possible.

When Yanna collected her glasses we ran the same Saccadic Clinical Eye Tracker exam with her new glasses on. The exam revealed no binocular problems whatsoever. Yanna was delighted and it wasn’t long before she left the following Google review.

Yanna said; “Probably the most thorough, knowledgeable and persistent in getting results opticians I have ever encountered! I went to Allegro Optical initially for musician’s glasses. I really wanted to be able to see more when performing on stage and to be able to communicate with my duo colleagues rather than looking at a foggy outline or having to swap glasses all the time.  Unfortunately, a retinal tear that developed immediately after I made my first appointment in 2020 and COVID getting in the way of everything, we had to work around many difficulties, none of which deterred the owner Sheryl Doe, who was determined to make me the best possible pair of glasses as close to the original brief as possible. And in April 2022 they did! I am the very happy owner of two fantastic pairs of specs, one varifocal and the other my “magic” pair for playing the piano and working on the computer. This was all possible thanks also to their new saccadic eye scanner which showed them exactly the kind of issues I had to struggle through when I was reading a score. The result is miraculous! I can see better, my eyes are more relaxed, I am not getting a single headache from reading music or working on the computer and as for my varifocals, it’s like I am not wearing glasses, that’s how comfortable they are! Allegro, Optical thank you!

I would recommend Allegro’s unique skills to anyone, particularly if you are struggling with any eye issues or you want to be able to read music effortlessly. Superb service in every way!”

Why do musicians come to Allegro Optical?

As 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 afield. 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.

Award-winning eye-care

So 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‘ and in 2021 Allegro Optical Dispensing Optician Kim Walker scooped the same title.

The company has been featured in many national publications including The Times 4BarsRest, The British Bandsman and Music Teacher Magazine.
Are you a musician who is struggling with their vision? Is making music no longer the enjoyable experience it once was? If so call us at Greenfield on 01457 353100, Marsden 01484 768888 or Meltham on 01484 907090.

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About Allegro Music

It’s ME Awareness week

M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) is a term that is frequently used interchangeably or in conjunction with the term Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). It is a condition characterised by a variety of symptoms such as chronic fatigue, restless sleep, muscle discomfort, cognitive dysfunction (‘brain fog’, sensitivity to sound and light, melancholy, anxiety, irritability, and mood swings. Other symptoms of ME/CFS include food allergies or sensitivities, digestion issues, chills and night sweats, disorientation, and fainting.

But why is an optician talking about ME we hear you ask! 

Many people are unaware that ME/CFS can cause a broad spectrum of vision-related symptoms. Eye pain, photophobia (light sensitivity), visual processing issues, floaters and spots, tearing, dry eyes, poor focus, double vision, scotomata, blurred vision, tunnel vision, night blindness, depth-of-field loss, nystagmus, and early cataracts are just some of the symptoms.

In a 2001 Belgian study of 2073 CFS patients, 74.4% of patients satisfying the Fukuda criteria and 77.2% of patients meeting the Holmes criteria had visual acuity issues. About three-quarters of ME / CFS patients report eye and vision problems.  Additionally, some ME patients demonstrated reduced binocular eye movement control during non-reading tasks, when compared to controls.

An example of a commonly reported vision problem is reading difficulties and vision-related symptoms (e.g., pattern glare, headaches, difficulty tracking lines of text) when reading, especially when reading for long periods of time. Studies have found that despite the fact that ME/CFS is not associated with poor reading acuity or visual acuity for letters or cognitive deficits, increased susceptibility to visual crowding may contribute to challenges with reading. All Allegro Optical practices are equipped with visual stress analysis equipment and all offer overlay assessments and colorimetry.

Saccadic eye movements and ME

Patients with ME may have impaired eye movements when reading or performing non-reading tasks. It may be possible to shed some light on the causes of reading-related visual discomfort among ME patients by studying eye movements while reading.  With our saccadic eye tracker, we can systematically examine eye movement during reading and non-reading tasks. 

As the only optician in the Huddersfield and Holmfirth area to invest in saccadic eye-tracking technology Allegro Optical is better equipped than most to assist with these problems.

            ME and regular eye exams

Our eyes work constantly throughout the day. That’s why we believe in preventative care – getting regular check-ups. By doing so you can enjoy early detection of problems and avoid what could potentially become more significant issues in the future. 

If you suffer from ME and you are experiencing any eye or vision-related symptoms, book an eye exam as soon as possible. It’s recommended that most people should get their eyes tested every 2 years. However, it’s best to attend earlier if any eye problems occur or if advised by your GP.

If you would like to book your eye examination call Allegro Optical in either Marsden 01484 768888, Greenfield 01457 353100 or Meltham 01484 907090 to find the perfect match. Also, follow us on Twitter @AllegroOptical. Or on Instagram @allegrooptical.

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About Allegro Music

#SeeTheMusic and More – Glaucoma, the silent thief of sight

Eye conditions and the performing arts professional

Being the only performing arts eye care specialist in the UK as well as the only optician registered with BAPAM , we fully understand how issues with the eyes can negatively affect a performer’s career.

Musicians, dancers, singers, presenters, camera operators, sound engineers, and video technicians have all benefited from our assistance.

We all may experience vision problems at some point in our lives. Most of these problems are caused by refractive errors, which affect the way the eyes focus light, rather than an underlying condition or illness. Nevertheless, eye conditions affect many people. The purpose of this blog series is to examine common eye disorders experienced by performing arts professionals.

Glaucoma – What exactly is it?

The term “glaucoma” refers to a group of diseases that affect the optic nerve, which connects the retina to the brain, resulting in a loss of peripheral vision. Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) is the most common form of glaucoma.

Of the multiple types of glaucoma, the two main types are open-angle and angle-closure glaucoma.

Variants of open-angle and angle-closure glaucoma include:

  • Secondary Glaucoma.
  • Pigmentary Glaucoma.
  • Pseudoexfoliative Glaucoma.
  • Traumatic Glaucoma.
  • Neovascular Glaucoma.
  • IridoCorneal Endothelial Syndrome (ICE)
  • Uveitic Glaucoma.

As glaucoma is asymptomatic, but causes irreversible vision loss, it has been referred to as the “silent thief of sight.”. According to the World Health Organisation, it’s a leading cause of irreversible blindness (World Health Organisation, 2010). (Bunce et al., 2010) cites it as the second most common cause of visual impairment registration in England and Wales. Glaucoma is an umbrella term for a large group of disorders with a wide variety of clinical and pathological characteristics. The common characteristics are: 

  • Optic nerve damage
  • Visual field loss

The disease is a silent progressive disease and, if detected and treated early, is preventable and can lead to significant visual impairment or blindness. Diagnosis is crucial, and adherence to treatment is essential to prevent vision loss.

Glaucoma accounts for the majority of the workload (1 million visits per year) in  UK eye clinics. About 2% of people over 40  years of age and nearly 10% of people over  75 have primary (chronic) open-angle glaucoma (POAG). Only about half are diagnosed (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, 2009). The social and economic burden of glaucoma-related vision loss and  workload is likely to increase due to longer life expectancy (Coleman and Miglior, 2008; Burr et al., 2007). Because glaucoma patients may  have no symptoms until they have lost their vision, then the loss of vision is irreversible. Once vision loss is apparent, 90% of the fibres of the optic nerve  may be irreparably damaged (NICE, 2009). Treatment slows progression by lowering intraocular pressure (IOP).

Consequences of glaucoma for the performer

Damage to nerve cells in the retina leads to damage to the visual field. Peripheral fields are usually damaged first. Loss of peripheral vision may go unnoticed until it reaches a significant level, due to the small role that peripheral vision plays in the overlapping vision of our eyes and in perceiving what most people can see. Deterioration usually progresses slowly over the years, although some types of secondary open-angle glaucoma can progress faster.

Performers, particularly musicians who play larger instruments such as pianos, organs and large percussion use their peripheral vision more than most. As a result the symptoms of peripheral vision loss may well be detected sooner. 

Some instrumentalists however may be at an increased risk of the condition. Recent studies suggest that musicians playing high-impedance wind instruments may be susceptible to glaucoma. This could be because the Valsalva manoeuvre is generated when blowing into a high impedance wind instrument. The Valsalva manoeuvre has been reported to cause high intraocular pressure (IOP). 

High and low resistance wind musicians experience a temporary increase in intraocular pressure while playing their instrument. The magnitude of the IOP increase is greater for high resistance players than for low resistance players. High-resistance wind musicians have a lower incidence of visual field loss than other musicians but IOPS are significantly higher, which is associated with lifetime playing time. The cumulative effects of long-term intermittent elevated IOP while playing high-resistance wind instruments could cause cell damage and possibly lead to an increased risk of developing glaucoma.

How do we check to see if you are at risk of glaucoma?

Tonometry

Our optometrists perform a number of different tests to look for glaucoma. We use a device called a tonometer to measure the pressure inside your eye. Our optometrist will put a small amount of anaesthetic and dye into the front of your eye. They will then shine a light into your eye and then use a tonometer to measure the pressure in your eye. Some optometrists use a different instrument that uses a puff of air called a non contact tonometer which does not touch the eye to check the pressure.

A visual field test determines whether any portions of vision are missing. It’s possible that you’ll be shown a series of light dots and asked to press a button to indicate which ones you saw. Some little dots may appear at the periphery of your vision (peripheral vision), which is generally the first area of glaucoma to be impacted. If you can’t see the spots you may be at risk of glaucoma.

Evaluation of the optic nerve 

Because the optic nerve, which connects your eye to your brain, can be damaged in glaucoma, an examination may be performed to determine its health.

Slit Lamp Exam

Eye Drops will be used to dilate your pupils for the test. Your eyes are then examined using a slit lamp (a microscope with a bright light) Slit-lamp examination of the optic nerve magnifies the view with hand-held lenses, allowing for greater control over the examination. This technique produces a stereoscopic, inverted image of the optic nerve.

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) tests create a topographical map of the optic nerve by taking cross-section pictures of the retina with non-invasive light waves. The thickness of the nerve fibre layer, which is the portion of the optic nerve most vulnerable to eye pressure elevation, is measured by an OCT test.

Referral to a specialist

If signs of glaucoma are detected during any of the tests, you will be referred to an ophthalmologist for further investigation. If you do have glaucoma the ophthalmologist will confirm your diagnosis and find out:

  • how far the condition has progressed
  • how much damage has been done to your eyes
  • what may have caused the condition

The ophthalmologist will be able to advise on treatment. 

In some cases, your ophthalmologist will continue to treat you. But for less serious types of glaucoma, you may be referred back to the opticians.

Treatment

There are a few courses of action to treat glaucoma, including eye drops, laser treatment and surgery. The best treatment for you will depend upon your condition.

Eye Drops

Treatment can’t reverse any vision loss but it starts with eye drops. These can help reduce IOP by improving drainage from your eye or by reducing how much fluid your eye makes. Depending  how low your eye pressure should be, more than one type of the eyedrops may be recommended.

Laser Treatment

Laser treatment might be suggested in the event that eye drops don’t work.

This is where a high-energy light is focused on part of your eye to stop or reduce fluid build up.

Sorts of laser treatment include:

laser trabeculoplasty

a laser is used to open up the vessels inside the eye,  to allow more fluid  to empty out and reduce the tension inside

cyclodiode laser treatment

a laser is utilised to remove a small amount of eye tissue that delivers the fluid, which can then decrease pressure in the eye

laser iridotomy

a laser is used to make openings in the iris to permit liquid to escape from your eye.

Surgery

In situations where eyedrops or laser treatments haven’t been successful surgery may be offered.

The most well-known sort of a medical procedure for glaucoma is called trabeculectomy. It includes removing part of the eye’s drainage mechanisms to permit more liquid to escape without any problem.

There are other glaucoma surgical options, including:

trabeculotomy — similar to a trabeculectomy, other than a tiny segment of the eye-drainage vessels are removed using an electric current.

A segment of the white outer covering of the eyeball (the sclera) is removed to allow fluid to drain more easily from the eye.

Deep sclerectomy — the drainage channels in the eye are enlarged, sometimes with the insertion of a small device.

trabecular stent bypass – a small catheter is inserted into your eye to improve fluid outflow.

Conclusion

Patients with chronic conditions, such as glaucoma, should work with their optometrist and other eye care professionals. Preventing irreversible and severe vision loss necessitates early detection and screening.

Getting regular eye exams is now the easiest approach to avoid major glaucoma damage.

Most people can keep their vision with early identification and meticulous, lifetime treatment. In general, a glaucoma check should be performed:

  • under age 40, every two years
  • from age 40 to age 64, every 12 months
  • after age 65, every six to 12 months

A screening should be done every year or two in those with high risk factors after 35. In addition to people of African descent and people with diabetes, those with a family history of glaucoma and wind instrumentalists have an elevated risk of getting glaucoma. If you have a parent or sibling with glaucoma, you are at higher risk.

Benefits of Exercise

A moderate exercise program is beneficial to your overall health, and studies have shown that moderate exercise, such as jogging or walking, three or more times a week, can lower IOP.

You can only reap the benefits of exercise for as long as you continue to exercise; this is why moderate exercise on a regular basis is recommended. The practice of yoga can be beneficial, but it’s important to avoid inverting positions, such as headstands and shoulder stands, as these can increase IOP.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding an exercise program, you should speak with your doctor.

Keep Your Eyes Protected

While participating in sports or doing home improvement projects, it is important to wear protective eyewear.

Protecting your eyes from injury is another way to prevent glaucoma. Traumatic glaucoma and secondary glaucoma are both caused by injury to the eyes.

The best defence against glaucoma and other eye diseases is a regular comprehensive eye exam.

In Summary

The optometrists at Allegro Optical have the technology, facilities, including our fantastic 3D OCT eye scanners, and experience to determine if your eye flashers are serious. Early detection and treatment are critical for preserving your vision, eye health, and performing arts career.

As the UK’s only specialist Performing Arts eye care provider we understand more than most just how much dry eye conditions can impact a performer’s career and everyday life. 

Our optical specialists understand the demands of professional musicians and performing arts professionals. Working in collaboration with our dispensing opticians and optometrists, we are able to assist musicians. It is surprising how many musicians are unaware of the many solutions available to them. 

With the precision of our performing arts eye exams, the expertise of our optometrists and dispensing opticians using cutting edge diagnostic equipment and dispensing procedures our unique approach can help to resolve performing arts practitioners’ vision problems. 

If you are suffering from any of the symptoms mentioned above or have any of the symptoms described then please speak to one of our staff.  To book an appointment or find out more about our exclusive dry eye programme, Call us today and speak to a member of our team. 

Contact: To find out more about Allegro Optical, the musicians’ opticians go to; https://allegrooptical.co.uk/services/musicians-optical-services/