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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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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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#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/

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‘See The Best’ – Award winning eyecare in Meltham, Greenfield and now Marsden

A brand new practice arrives in the heart of Marsden

We are thrilled to announce that our brand new practice opened last Saturday in the picturesque village of Marsden. The new premises is located at 30 Peel Street in the centre of the Marsden village and was opened by Carol Baxter, Musical Director of the Holme Valley Flutes who played at the occasion. Carol was Allegro Optical’s very first customer when we opened our Meltham practice.

Allegro Optical opened its first Optician’s practice in Meltham in 2017 and there are currently eight members of the founding family working at the business, committed to providing exceptional customer service and products to clients in West Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Since opening our first practice over five years ago, we have ensured that every Allegro Optical practice offers a thoroughly professional and friendly service, in a clean, modern and welcoming environment. We offer comprehensive eye examinations and professional dispensing services by highly qualified Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians. In fact, our team of six Dispensing Opticians includes ‘three national Dispensing Opticians of the Year’. Stephen, Sheryl and Kim won the national award in 2006, 2019 and 2021 respectively. We combine the very latest technology and equipment and the skill set of highly consummate professionals, to provide you with the very best eye care possible.     

We also offer a full contact lens service, visual stress assessments, Optical Coherence Tomography, saccadic eye-tracking and a complete hearing care service with our fully qualified Audiologists, hearing aid dispensers and Hearing Care Nurse providing a comprehensive ear wax removal service including irrigation and microsuction, giving you the option to choose the method you prefer.

Group Managing Director Stephen Tighe states:  “We as directors have made a firm commitment to not only survive these difficult times but to grow and thrive during them. Due to the success of our Greenfield practice which opened in 2019, the previous history of Allegro Optical in Meltham and the opportunity to acquire new premises in Marsden, we believe this is the perfect time to expand. As a former resident of Marsden, I think the village has a great deal of potential in the future.  We are very happy to come to Marsden and we are looking forward to welcoming new clients to our practice.

The two-storey premises brings more capacity for clients, with a state of the art test room, a camera equipment room, eyewear styling room and a large shop floor, which is currently playing host to an exhibition of local art by artists Matt Turner and Kevin Threlfall. Which hopefully will help the local arts community.

The expansion has also allowed Allegro Optical to take on another professional optometrist and a dispensing optician to cope with increasing demand.

Optical Managing Director Sheryl Doe said: “We wanted to make Marsden a flagship, capable of accommodating the latest technology, but without it feeling or looking clinical  and we are delighted with the results.”

If you live locally and would like to take the opportunity to experience award-winning dispensing and eye care we would love to welcome you. 
We’re also now offering a style consultation service to help you find the perfect pair to suit your style. So please give us a call 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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Post COVID-19 Eye Exam Upgrade

Are Private Eye Tests Better than NHS Sight Tests?

Many people are eligible for free NHS sight tests, but anyone who doesn’t meet the criteria must pay for a private eye exam. The question is, which is better?

One of the biggest differences between an NHS sight test and a private eye examination is the thoroughness of the examination itself and the number of different investigative tests and assessments carried out during the examination. 

NHS Sight Test

During an NHS funded sight test, the optometrist will also take a history of your health and vision. They will check your vision using a sight test chart and carry out an examination of your eye.  If clinically necessary you will also be offered a visual field screening test to check your peripheral vision,a check of your eye pressure and the optometrist may also take a photograph of your retina.  

NHS sight tests take between 15 to 20 minutes and you will be issued with a prescription. If eligible you will be given an optical voucher to help with the cost of your glasses.

Going Private and Advanced Optometry

During a private eye examination this initial process is similar to an NHS sight test, but what follows is a more detailed examination of the eye. All the private eye exams at Allegro Optical take between 45 – 60  minutes and include fundus photography, which captures a digital photograph of the inner surface of your eyes. 

Further tests including eScoop, for Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), tear film assessments for dry eye, Colorimetry for visual stress, migraine and dyslexia may also be required. 

Our Advanced Optometry eye examinations are more bespoke and give clients the opportunity to tailor their eye examination to their concerns. Eye exams can include a 3D OCT eye scan, similar to an ultrasound scan. 3D OCT scans reveal the many layers that make up the back of your eyes which cannot be seen using the traditional methods used during an NHS sight test. 3D OCT scans can detect early changes in the eye allowing us to detect some conditions up to four years earlier than traditional methods.

In addition to the 3D OCT, clients are offered an extended visual field examination often including a binocular Esterman Visual Field test, similar to that required by the DVLA. This is a 120 point test and allows us to plot both your central vision and also your peripheral vision. It also checks for any scotomas (blind spots) reduced fixation or areas of reduced sensitivity. 

Allegro Optical is the only optical group in the area to offer Saccadic eye-tracking for binocular balance and ocular dominance issues. 

At the end of the eye examination you will be issued with your prescription, and an eye health report including your OCT scan, field plots and your eye tracking report if required.

Eye exam Upgrade

Throughout April and May Allegro Optical is offering everyone an eye exam upgrade. Those eligible for NHS sight tests will be offered a free upgrade to a private eye examination and those who pay privately will be offered the Advanced Optometry eye exams for the same price.

If you are due an eye exam and would like to upgrade free of charge book your eye exam today call Meltham on 01484 907090 or from mid April you can visit our new practice in Marsden by calling 01484 76888

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Frame of the month for March 2022

March has arrived and with it comes a new frame of the month. I love March as it’s that time of year when Christmas is a distant memory, the January blues are long gone and spring is not far away, bringing with it bursts of colour. This is why I love this month’s frame of month and the brand behind the frame. This month’s frame is La Font Delicate C3100. This month’s frame was actually chosen because of how amazing our clinical Support and administrator Charlene Bradford looked in them. What I loved about them was the fact that they are an everyday frame while still injecting some boldness from the sharp edges and cat eye shape (my favourite frame shape) of the frame. So let’s first talk about this month’s frame of the month La Font Delicate  C3100.

La Font Delicate C3100 is a beautiful frame and I can see why Charlene chose it. The frames material is acetate layered with vibrant colours of blue and orange. The shades of colours set through the frame change depending on how the light hits the frame, so one moment it can appear almost navy and burnt orange the next an ocean blue and sun kissed orange. It really is just an absolutely gorgeous frame. I personally would wear this frame with shades of greys, turquoise and whites to set off the beautiful orange and blue colours. As usual I could talk about our frame of the month all day long but I also think we should hear a little more about the brand behind the frame.  

La Font is a brand with over 90 years of history. The brand has an emphasis on elegance and strong family values, which as a family run business itself, is an ethos we believe in ourselves too. La Font was set in 1923 in Rue Vignon in Paris’s Madeleine district, by Louis Lafont as a small boutique selling hearing aids and spectacles, now that brand has collaborated with major fashion houses such as Hermès and Chanel and operates four boutiques exports to over forty countries! The frames are hand made in France and much like the frames of 1920/1930s they still have the same style and colour combinations today. The Brand La Font has a OFG (Guaranteed French Origin) label giving every frame a certification of impeccable quality. Every frame offers the wearer both style and boldness. 

So if, like me, you love the sound of La Font Eyewear then don’t hesitate to come in and have a look at our range of La Font Eyewear. Take the opportunity to add some elegance to your style. We’re also now offering a style consultation service to help you find the perfect pair to suit your style. So please give us a call in either 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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#SeeTheMusic and More – Astigmatism and the performer

Astigmatism and the performing arts professional

Being the UK’s only eye care specialists who work in the performing arts, we understand first-hand how eye disorders and refractive errors can negatively impact a career. This blog series aims to highlight common eye conditions that performers encounter. Musicians, presenters, dancers, camera operators, sound technicians and singers are just some of the performing arts professionals we’ve assisted to see the music.

Most vision problems can be attributed to refractive errors. Over 61 percent of people in the UK have some sort of vision problem that requires corrective action. Over 10 percent use contact lenses regularly, and more than half wear glasses. 

The four most common types of refractive error are:

  • Myopia or Short-sightedness. Myopia results from light focusing just short of the retina due to the cornea or the eyeball being too long.
  • Hyperopia or Long-sightedness. Generally, hyperopia is a result of the eyeball being too short from front to back, or of problems with the shape of the cornea (the top clear layer of the eye) or lens (the part of the eye that helps the eye to focus).
  • Presbyopia or Old Sight. Presbyopia is caused by a hardening of the eyes crystalline lens, which occurs with ageing. As our lenses become less flexible, they can no longer change shape to focus on close-up images.
  • Astigmatism or rugby ball-shaped eyes. Astigmatism causes blurred distance and near vision due to a curvature abnormality in the eye. A person with astigmatism either has an irregular corneal surface or a lens inside the eye that has mismatched curves. 

Astigmatism: An overview 

Astigmatism can pose a major concern for some performing arts professionals. This article explores how performers can cope with Astigmatism and how it may be managed and treated. Astigmatic refractive disorders can have career-limiting consequences. Some conditions, such as keratoconus result in severe astigmatism which can distort a performer’s vision and sometimes leads to musculoskeletal problems.

Astigmatism can pose many challenges for performers, presenters, and musicians. Furthermore, the shape-changing nature of the condition not only presents a variety of challenges but also presents numerous obstacles. 

What is astigmatism?

The first step to understanding astigmatism is to understand how the normal (non-astigmatic) eye works so that you can see clearly. As light enters the eye two of the eye’s most powerful structures bend the light rays onto the retina. The clear outer covering of the eye called the Cornea bends light rays before they pass further into the eye through the pupil. Next, the crystalline lens bends the light rays some more so that all the light rays come together (converge) to form a perfect focal point on the retina.

Astigmatism is a common refractive error that affects nearly two thirds of the population. Those with astigmatism have corneas that aren’t perfectly round. As a result of the Cornea’s non-symmetrical shape, light rays converge to more than one focal point. This can lead to blurred vision both up close and at a distance due to multiple focal points formed by light rays. There are five different types of astigmatism and it is possible to have both astigmatism and other refractive errors.

With all types of astigmatism light rays come together to form not one but two focal points. The mere fact that there are two focal points formed, instead of just one (in the normal seeing eye) creates vision problems.

The big 5

First Type – simple myopic astigmatism

Simple myopic astigmatism is characterised by light arriving at two focal points: one on the retina, one before it.

Second Type – simple hyperopic astigmatism

Second, simple hyperopic astigmatism has two focal points: one on the retina and the other behind the retina that would be a virtual point.

Third Type- Compound Myopic Astigmatism

The third is compound myopic astigmatism, which occurs when light meets two focal points, both before the retina, but at different locations before the retina.

Fourth Type – Compound Hyperopic Astigmatism

As Probably as you guessed, the fourth type of astigmatism is called compound hyperopia, which means that light strikes two focal points at once, both in a virtual location behind the retina.

Fifth Type

In the fifth type of astigmatism, light is directed to two focal points, one of which is in front of the retina, the other at a virtual position behind.

#SeeTheMusic and more

Astigmatism is a shape-changing refractive disorder. Images appear stretched or sometimes have an unusual orientation. Some symptoms include:

  • Vision that is blurry or distorted
  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches
  • Night vision problems

Many people are born with Astigmatism, but experts don’t know why, although it does seem to be hereditary. The condition can also be caused by an eye injury, an eye disease, or surgery.

A condition called keratoconus can sometimes cause astigmatism by thinning and changing the shape of the clear front part of the eye (the cornea). Contact lenses will probably be needed often to wear at the same time as glasses.

Performers visual demands

Performers are required to use one or more of the following skills:

  • Rapid changes in focus. Changing focus between objects at different distances rapidly and accurately is vision focusing. A musician, for instance, needs to read the music on the stand, look at the conductor and other members of the ensemble all at different distances clearly and accurately.
  • Vision fixation: The ability to read sheet music, regardless of how fast its tempo.
  • Peripheral vision: The ability to see and observe out of the corner of your eye when looking at a fixed object such as sheet music on the stand. In an orchestra, a player must be able to see both their stand partner or another member of their section even when they may be unable to alter their head position due to their instrument.
  • Focusing regulation: The ability to retain eye coordination during high-speed activities or while under high physiological pressure.

The above demands can place a lot of pressure on the performer, especially when their vision isn’t up to par. 

Effective treatment of Astigmatism

Spectacles

Astigmatism presents unique challenges when wearing spectacles due to the changes of orientation and image size and shape. Astigmatism is most commonly corrected by corrective spectacle lenses, which are curved to counteract the shape of the cornea or lens that’s causing blurred vision. If you look directly ahead, they are effective. Depending on how much correction you need, they might make the floor or walls look tilted. 

This effect should go away as you get used to them. If you have severe astigmatism, it might take a week or so. Start by wearing the glasses first thing in the morning, for a few hours at a time, and adjusting slowly. If your vision doesn’t get better, go back and see your optometrist and dispensing optician.

Contact lenses

You can also use contact lenses, but you’ll likely need toric contacts. You will still need prescription spectacles as you need to rest your eyes a couple of days a week. Over wearing contact lenses can cause more problems than it solves. 

If you blink, all contact lenses will rotate. The soft toric lenses used for astigmatism are designed to return to the same spot each time.

If your astigmatism is severe, rigid gas-permeable contact lenses (RGP) can often provide a better correction. However, they are not as comfortable as the soft toric contact lenses and it takes time to build up your wear time.

Laser eye surgery

It is slightly more difficult to perform laser eye surgery to treat astigmatism than to treat myopia or hyperopia. This is because astigmatism requires correction in more than one place in the eye, due to the irregular curvature of the cornea or lens. Even so, it remains a relatively straightforward procedure that has a high success rate. In fact, it is thought that up to 90% of patients achieve 2020 vision, depending on the type of surgery they have.

In general terms laser eye surgery to correct astigmatism is divided into two types:

The laser epithelial keratomileusis (LASEK) procedure is similar to PRK, but involves softening the cornea with alcohol to remove a flap of tissue and reposition it afterward, and changing the shape of the cornea with a laser.

Laser in situ keratoplasty (LASIK) – this procedure is similar to LASEK, but the corneal flap is smaller. When it comes to treating hyperopia that is related to corneal contour, LASIK is quite effective. Most LASIK patients achieve a vision of 6/12 or better, which means they will no longer need glasses or contact lenses to see clearly on a daily basis. But you may still need help with sight reading. The likelihood of LASIK success has increased due to the development of wavefront scanning technology, so today’s LASIK patient can expect even better results.

The majority of these procedures are performed in an outpatient setting. The local anaesthesia numbs your eyes while the procedure is performed, which usually takes less than 30 minutes

LASIK and LASEK are typically the preferred methods owing to their painless nature, and because you can usually see again within a few hours or days after the procedure. As a word of caution, it can sometimes take up to a month for vision to stabilise.

Lens implant surgery

Lens implants are another option for treating hyperopia. A small incision is made in the cornea to implant an artificial lens into your eye to focus light more clearly onto the retina.

This procedure is suitable for those with extreme hyperopia or who struggle to wear glasses or contact lenses. Lens implants fall into two categories:

Phakic implants replace your natural lens without removing your natural eye lens; they are usually preferred by younger people with a normal natural vision for reading

Refractive lens exchange (RLE) is an operation similar to cataract surgery in which the natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial one.

It is typically done under local anaesthesia, and the procedure can usually be done the same day. The procedure is usually done separately for each eye.

In Summary

These treatments are beneficial to both performers and amateurs. They all, however, have limitations and side effects. As performers ourselves our unique perspective enables us to offer balanced, impartial advice.

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 and their access to cutting edge diagnostic equipment and dispensing procedures our unique approach can help to resolve hyperopic performing arts practitioners vision problems.

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

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It’s all happening at Allegro Optical

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been pretty busy and as a result, blogs have slowed down a bit. Working with the Royal Society of Musicians and British Association of Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM) and Musicians, Sheryl presented a webinar on Healthy Practises for musicians’ eye health, focusing on maintaining a career as a performing artist into old age. As soon as the recording is available, we will publish a link. 

As part of her work with York University, Sheryl educates students about how to maintain their eye health and vision. In her presentation on Friday, she discussed the ocular disorders that can impact the career of a performing arts professional. A recording of the presentation will be shared once it is available.

In addition to our ongoing work with The Royal Society of Musicians and BAPAM we have been rather busy in Marsden, in West Yorkshire. You may have noticed some signs going up near Boots the Chemist and Valley Osteopaths on Peel Street. We are delighted that this will be the location of our third practice and new head office.  

There is still a lot of work to be done on the site, but we are hoping things will come to fruition quite quickly. The new practice has extensive office space behind and it will become the base from which we will now be running our peripatetic performing arts eye care division.  

The new practice will be equipped with the latest high tech equipment to enable us to care for both performing arts professionals and general practice eye care clients. In addition to providing award-winning eye care for both private and NHS patients, we will also offer emergency eye appointments under the PEARS scheme along with cataract and glaucoma appointments. If you need contact lenses, we will also offer our over-the-counter purchase option or our monthly payments scheme providing home delivery of soft daily, monthly and yearly lenses.  

A full range of eyewear is available, ranging from NHS and budget frames to British designed brands such as Walter&Herbert, AngloAmerican, Hook LDN, Ashton Riley, William Morris, Cocoa Mint and environmentally friendly brands including Hemp eyewear, Waterhaul, Eco-Conscious, Coral and the award-winning Sea2See.

In addition to our award-winning eye care, we will provide comprehensive hearing care services including FREE hearing health assessments, ear wax removal from £50 and a full range of hearing aids, hearing aid batteries, and other accessories.

We have a number of other practises locally in Meltham, Holmfirth and Greenfield, Saddleworth. The Allegro Optical team is dedicated to providing the very best care to our clients by building long-term relationships. By taking part in local initiatives, events, charity work, and fostering a ‘buy local’ ethos, we seek out opportunities to engage with the community.

We appreciate all the local businesses that have made us feel welcome and look forward to continuing to be part of this wonderful village for years to come.

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Focussing on low vision and AMD

This month, we are raising awareness of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and low vision.  Those with AMD experience central vision problems. Even though people with AMD can lose vision in the central part of their eyes, they rarely become blind from it. The risk factors for AMD include being older than 50, smoking, having high blood pressure, and eating a diet high in saturated fat.

As we age, our risk of developing the condition increases. AMD affects one out of every 200 people over the age of 60. At 90, one in five people is affected. As we live longer, the number of people affected by AMD is growing.

There are two types of AMD – dry and wet.

Dry age-related macular degeneration

Dry age-related macular degeneration (Dry AMD) is the gradual destruction of the macula as the retinal cells die off without being replaced.

Wet age-related macular degeneration

A wet form of age-related macular degeneration (Wet AMD) develops when abnormal blood vessels grow into the macula. They cause the macula to scar and result in rapid loss of central vision due to leakage of blood or fluid.

Age-related macular degeneration risk factors

Although AMD is not known to have a specific cause, a number of factors contribute to its development.

Age

There is a strong association between age and risk. Cell regeneration declines with age. As a result, the condition is more likely to occur in older people.

Genetics

You are more likely to develop AMD if you have a family history of the disease.

Smoking

In addition to damaging blood vessels, cigarettes damage the eye’s structure. Compared to non-smokers, smokers are four times more likely to develop macular degeneration. The risk of developing AMD is twenty times higher if you smoke and also have a specific gene for AMD. If you stop smoking after developing AMD, you could reduce the risk of your eye condition worsening. 

Diet

AMD may be caused by a diet low in fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, which protect the body from free radical damage. Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage cells or prevent them from repairing themselves.

Consuming alcohol destroys antioxidants. Diabetes, obesity, and a diet high in sugars and hydrogenated or saturated fats are also risk factors for AMD. 

Blood pressure

High blood pressure increases the risk of AMD one and a half times compared to normal blood pressure.

Gender

Both men and women are affected by AMD. Women tend to live longer than men, so they tend to be diagnosed with AMD more frequently.

Look after your eyes

By using our 3D Optical Coherence Tomography system (3D OCT Scanner) we can detect the early signs of AMD. It is a complex technology used to measure the eye and particularly the layers of the retina. The retina is the light-sensitive area at the back of the eye. 

Rather like an MRI or CAT scan, OCT scans provide a 3D image of the eyes. A similar test to an ultrasound scan, this one uses light rather than sound to look through the retina layers, giving us a 3D view of the inside of your eye.

Similar to an ultrasound scan, this test uses light rather than sound to look through the retina layers, giving us a 3D view of the inside of your eye. With our OCT scanner, our optometrists can detect, sometimes for the first time, problems within your eye that could not easily be seen before.  

OCT scans let us see underneath the surface of the eye, which tells us so much more and can help prevent loss of vision if changes are spotted early. 

Sadly this service is not available with an NHS sight test, but if you qualify for an NHS sight test and want to protect your vision for the future we would recommend adding an OCT scan to your test. The cost is just £25.00 and if nothing else will give you peace of mind.

For more information about our 3D OCT Scanner or to book your scan and eye exam call Allegro Optical on Greenfield 01457 353100 and Meltham 01484 907090 and speak to one of our team.

For more information or practical advice on AMD, call the Advice and Information Service at 0300 3030 111 or email help@macularsociety.org.

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New Year – New Look or a family affair, by Abigayle Doe

 

Christmas is a time to spend with our loved ones, and New Year is generally a time for reflection and resolutions. For The Allegro Optical family New Year 2021/22 was no different. We took the opportunity to refurbish both our practices. It was a real family affair with everyone getting stuck in.

Helen dealt with getting all the equipment wired back in, Stephen showed off his wallpapering skills. Zac, who turned out to be a dab hand at DIY, installed our new units. Both Myself and Sheryl (Mum) painted the practices. Even our youngest family members got involved with Matthew and Finley playing the piano to accompany us as we worked. We were joined by Dispensing Optician Kim who, as it turns out, is a bit of a whizz at edging.

At times this refurbishment felt like an overwhelming task to attempt and accomplish within a week. However, we all pulled together and each and every day I was amazed at the fruits of our labour. With us all working together it didn’t feel so daunting and we accomplished so much in such a short amount of time.

Looking at both Greenfield and Meltham, the preparation, planning and work has all been worth it. I am incredibly proud of what we achieved.  We all love the warmth and family feel of each practice. I feel that the practices look both modern and homely, with a warm inviting atmosphere that is only enhanced by the members of staff in each practice. 

We have always strived to deliver excellence in our eyecare services. Not only do we use all the latest equipment such as OCT, which takes a 3D scan of the eyes, but we also offer more specialist services such as colorimetry which allows us to test for visual stress, and Eyewear Styling to help our clients find the perfect pair of spectacles.