How a visit to the optician became a race against time and lockdown for one European musician’s

Elmar-plays-his-trumpet-at-home

As lockdown loomed a European musician made a dash for home

Dr Elmar Eggerer is a man of many talents, an accomplished historian and musician; he is a busy man. Playing for well known European ensembles including positions such as the  Principal Trumpet with the Vienna Klezmer Orchestra, Principal Trumpet with the Vienna Lakeside Music Academy Symphony Orchestra, Principal Trombone with the Kingstown Medium Band and the Big Band Markus Fluhr, based in Germany it’s a wonder he has time for anything else.  Prior to undergoing cataract surgery in 2014, Dr Eggerer lived with pronounced myopia.  However following the surgery, although his vision was corrected for distance, he lost all his accommodation. As a result, Dr Eggerer struggled to focus on near objects, a condition known as Pseudophakia. “I have had cataract operations on both eyes in 2014 and since then, my eyes can’t change focus anymore. Since then, I’ve had to work with four different pairs of glasses – one for reading closely, one for music reading, one for mid-range seeing (normal distances within the house) and one for outdoors and driving. Bit of a hassle carrying all that stuff around; and when playing music, I could only focus on the sheet music; the conductor was a dim figure somewhere in the distance,” said Dr Eggerer. 

Pseudophakia and more

As if Pseudophakia wasn’t enough to contend with, Dr Eggerer is diabetic. He also receives treatment under the Austrian hospital eye service for Glaucoma. A condition which can if left untreated, lead to the loss of peripheral vision or even blindness. In fact, it is the leading cause of preventable irreversible blindness worldwide. A wide field of view is vitally important to a musician who needs to be able to see his music on the stand. He also needs to see the conductor and all the sections of the orchestra. On top of all this, Dr Eggerer is starting to develop Posterior capsule opacification (PCO). This is a comparatively common phenomenon after cataract surgery and is often described as a thickening of the back (posterior) of the lens capsule which holds the artificial lens in place. The thickening of the capsule means that less light is able to travel through the lens capsule to the retina. Vision can become cloudy or blurred and may cause problems with bright lights and glare. No wonder Dr Eggerer was having problems.

International friendship

Dr Eggerer plays the Trumpet, Cornet, Trombone and Flugelhorn so being able to change his posture to see the music more clearly while playing isn’t easy or desirable. So he took the decision to travel to the UK for consultation with Allegro Optical. Dr Eggerer already knew about The Musicians Optician after he discovered one of our balloons entangled in his roof in 2017. To mark the opening of our Meltham practice we held a balloon race to help raise funds for the Macular Society. Each of the balloons had a ticket attached asking the person who discovered the balloon to get in touch.  Little did we realise the distance one of the balloons would travel. It was nearly a month later when we received a message from Dr Eggerer saying he had found our balloon in Austria and an international friendship was forged

On the day

After a thorough consultation with BAPAM registered Optometrist and Flautist Amy Ogden who was able to come up with a suitable prescription to help Dr Eggerer to play in more comfort. Enabling him to see his music on the stand, his conductors and his fellow performers. Although Amy was able to calculate a prescription to help Dr Eggerer, making a lens to provide this without any distortion was going to be a challenge. This job fell to Dispensing Optician Sheryl Doe, also a BAPAM registered practitioner and Dispensing Optician of the Year 2019. Also, a cornet player Sheryl understood Dr Eggerer’s many visual requirements.  She was happy to come up with a lens design that would provide all the required distances with minimal distortion.  After a detailed conversation and having taken many measurements concerning playing position, posture and working distances Sheryl designed a lens based on our Perficientur IF musicians lens, perfect for performers with a high prescription or those who require minimal distortion and the widest possible field of view. 

A race against time

As Dr Eggerer visited Allegro Optical in Mid March. This was just as Coronavirus was spreading across Europe and the UK. Delivery and timings were rapidly becoming a bit of a concern. Austria had announced that it was implementing a nationwide curfew while Dr Eggerer was in Meltham.  In fact, it was a bit of a race against time for him to make the last ferry crossing back to Germany before the whole of the UK went into full Lockdown. Because all labs moved to Keyworker lens production Dr Eggerer’s lenses were severely delayed.  They only went into production in mid-June. Once the lenses were ready and his spectacles had been glazed we posted them to him. We sent them fully insured to Germany where Dr Eggerer was working. Delighted with his new glasses Dr Eggerer immediately left us a fabulous review on Trumpetboards.com, a discussion forum for Trumpeters and Brass players.  Why do musicians come to Allegro Optical? As an independent family run business, we are gaining an international reputation. Both for professional excellence and an inventive approach to meeting customer needs. Now known internationally as the ‘Musician’s Opticians’ we are attracting many clients from across Europe and further afield. Our groundbreaking work with performers, players and conductors have 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.

Award-winning eye-care

We’ve been pretty successful in helping performers to #SeeTheMusic. In fact, in the last two years alone we have scooped no less than six 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 was a finalist in the AOP Dispensing Optician of the year 2020. She has also reached the finals of the  National Business Women’s Awards, for the Business Owner of the Year category.  Allegro Optical’s cutting edge approach to dispensing and their musical experience has led to the team being shortlisted for the prestigious Opticians Awards, Optical Assistant team of the year 2020 Allegro Optical has been featured in many national publications including The Times, 4BarsRest, The British Bandsman and Music Teacher Magazine. If you are a musician who is struggling with their vision and making music no longer the enjoyable experience it once was, give us a call at either Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090.

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