Clear vision is music to Richard’s ears and eyes

Now Richard’s vision is clear he no longer has to strain his eyes to see he music

Choreographer George Balanchine famously said; “See the music, hear the dance”. But what does a musician do when they can no longer see the music they have to play? That was a question violinist Richard Bottom asked himself when he moved desks. Richard plays for Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra and began to struggle with the symptoms of presbyopia when he moved his position within the ensemble. Suddenly Richards eyes we’re giving him clear vision of the music.

A real life problem

A seasoned varifocal wearer Richard is no novice when it comes to using multifocal lenses. However he was finding it increasingly more difficult to read his music when playing in. Richard mentioned this to his current optician who suggested changing his varifocal design. Switching Richard to the newest top of the range freeform lenses.

Richard took the plunge and upgraded to a new pair of individualised varifocal lenses which he was assured would allow him to play with ease. They didn’t, the new lenses still only provided a very small area of clear vision at music stand distance. Richard returned to his optician and explained that the new lenses really weren’t suitable. His optician then suggested a pair of bifocals, these turned out to be even worse. In the end Richard was dispensed with a pair of single vision spectacles for music stand distance only. Unfortunately this meant he couldn’t see anything else when playing. By now Richard was at his wits end.

Seeing the music

The “musicians’ optician” was recommended to Richard by several friends, who had visited Allegro Optical, including our neighbour Clive, from Pearsons Funerals, who plays double bass for the orchestra. So he decided to give us a try. Following a thorough eye test, Optometrist Sara Ackroyd identified not only an optical prescription, she also came up with a prescription for  Richards working distances when rehearsing and performing.

With a mildly hyperopic prescription Richard also has an  astigmatism, a refractive error caused by the irregularities in the shape of his cornea. In this condition, the eye fails to focus the light equally on the retina, leading to blurred or distorted vision. Astigmatism can cause a certain amount of peripheral distortion for the wearer, as do varifocal lenses. So it is no wonder that Richard was having some frustrating focusing issues.

What happened next?

Following the eye test Richard then had a meeting with Dispensing Optician Sheryl, who measured his facial features and helped him choose a well fitting frame. Having chosen the frames, Sheryl measured and mapped Richards field and required depth of view. This was to ensure that the new lenses provided Richard with the correct visual correction in the right place.

Sheryl Dispensed Richard with our Fogotto lenses to give the best field of view, especially as his head movement is limited when playing the violin. When looking from the music on the desk up to the conductor, Richard can only move his eyes. He also needs to be able to see the music on the desk of the player in front of him.

Richard Bottom violinist who play with Slaithwaite philharmonic orchestra buy their music sprectalcles from ALlegro Optical the musicians optician

A real life solution

It is very difficult to reproduce the layout of the rehearsal room in practice. Our optical practice is much smaller than a rehearsal room and so some distances are often estimated. Usually this isn’t a problem, but when Richard collected his new glasses, even though he was delighted with the clarity of the music on his stand, he struggled to see the music of the musician in front. 

We asked Richard to check these distances in Slaithwaite’s rehearsal room and the position of the desk in front. Armed with this information we were able to manipulate the lens design. We produced a new pair of lenses to give Richard the vision correction at those distances he had measured without compromising the clarity of his music.

A clear result

On trying the new lenses Richard was delighted and very confident. A few days later a  group of us from Allegro Optical went to see Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra with an evening of  Magic and Reimagining; featuring Prokofiev, Suite from Lieutenant Kije, 

Ravel, Piano Concerto in G and Sibelius, Symphony No 1. The concert was a triumph and the playing quite exceptional, We thoroughly enjoyed a really interesting programme which was certainly a most uplifting experience. The members of the orchestra certainly appeared to enjoy playing and that added to an outstanding performance. At the end of the evening the atmosphere amongst the audience was really buzzing. 

Violinist Richard Bottom at Huddersfield town hall with Sheryl from ALlegro Optical, the musicians optician

While there the team caught up with Richard during the interval and asked him how he was getting on with his new glasses.  He said; They are fantastic! Slaithwaite Phil are renowned for taking risks with the programmes they perform and the complexity of some of the music we tackle means you have to be able to see not only the music on the stand but everything else going on around. Two of the pieces we played tonight were new to me and, for the first time for ages I have been able to become totally absorbed in  the music and  performance because I haven’t been struggling to see. Considering I only picked the glasses up two days ago that is quite remarkable

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 a field. Our groundbreaking work with performers, players and conductors has resulted in Allegro Optical becoming the first and only opticians to gain registration with the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM).

We treat each client as an individual because they are. 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. This allows us to give a musician or performers eyes clear vision of the music.

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 she has been shortlisted for the AOP Dispensing Optician of the year 2020.

During March Allegro Optical was awarded the ‘Scale-Up Business of the Year‘ at the regional finals of the Federation of Small Business awards in York and went on to receive the FSB Chairman’s award at the national finals in May. Finally winning the FBU Yorkshire family business of the year. Allegro Optical’s unique optical solution and our cutting edge approach to dispensing has led to the group being named finalists in the Huddersfield Examiners Business Awards in the Innovation and Enterprise category.

The company has been featured in many national publications including The Times 4BarsRest, The British Bandsman and Music Teacher Magazine.

Are you are a musician who is struggling with their vision? Is making music is no longer the enjoyable experience it once was? Would you like to give your eyes clear vision of the music? If so call us at either Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090.

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