“It’s not always just about refraction”

Allegro Optical is making a name for itself as the “Musicians Optician” Specialising in performing arts eye care, the group is the nation’s largest optician dedicated to providing better vision for performers. The eyecare professionals working at Allegro Optical are dedicated to improving the lives of performing artists affected by deteriorating vision. 

Millions of musicians and performers worldwide encounter barriers when trying to sight-read or complete their daily near vision tasks. This can be due to refractive error, visual impairments or ocular disorders. Some performers encounter vision problems early in their careers, while others can reach their fifties without experiencing problems. The latter is true of string player and retired music teacher Susan Marshall. Susan came to Allegro Optical on the recommendation of friends as she was experiencing difficulty with her most recent glasses. She was finding that sightreading was becoming increasingly problematic and lighting, in particular, was crucial. In fact, she said she preferred her old glasses to her newer ones. 

An eye for detail

The first thing that the Allegro Optical team noticed when examining Susan’s glasses and her old prescription was that the prescribed prism on her most recent prescription was in the opposite direction to the prism in all her previous spectacles. Following detailed consultation with Bapam Registered Optometrist Elizabeth Holmes Susan was given a new optical prescription. The consultation not only included full refraction, and a binocular investigation including analysis with a saccadic eye movement tracker, but it also included a 3D ocular tomography scan and full binocular visual fields investigation.

Elizabeth found that Susan had mild lens opacities and nuclear sclerosis. In other words, she had early cataracts. The cataracts are growing centrally and cause some disturbance to Susan’s vision. A nuclear cataract is a clouding and hardening of the lens centre, resulting in blurred vision, glare, and other changes in the field of vision, making reading difficult and causing a degree of glare. Aside from opacification, cataracts also cause refractive changes and colour distortion.

Not just focusing on the lenses

Because of the position of the cataracts and the changes to Susan’s refractive error Elizabeth and Dispensing Opticians Abigayle and Sheryl Doe decided that a digital aspheric lens solution would be the best option. This worked particularly well with the prism element of Susan’s prescription, making the lenses much more attractive than conventionally surfaced lenses. The digital lens form also provided a much more natural vision correction for Susan, eliminating bowing and reducing magnification making the music easier to read and keeping the appearance of staves straight. The lenses were coated with an anti-glare coating and we provided Susan with a yellow contract enhancing filter to help when playing in lower lighting conditions. By using a separate filter Susan doesn’t have to walk around with yellow lenses on which can at times impede colour perception.

Coloured filters often enhance residual vision, improve visual function, reduce glare, and enhance orientation and mobility skills. In addition to cataracts, many symptoms of ocular diseases can be eased with coloured filters and overlays, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), retinitis pigmentosa (RP), and diabetic retinopathy, to name but a few. 

Perfectly framed

Susan chose a lovely Oliver Goldsmith frame which suited her complexion and fitted perfectly. This is particularly important for a violinist, as the last thing she wants is to be constantly pushing her glasses up, especially as she doesn’t have a free hand when playing.

When Susan collected her glasses, she commented how much clearer her vision was. however, it was the yellow filter which made a big difference. The yellow filter reduces blue light, creating greater contrast in daylight conditions and helps with sight-reading. 

We caught up with Susan a couple of weeks later and asked her how she was getting on with her glasses and filters. She said; After a long period of struggling I can at last read music clearly thanks to the skill and thoroughness of Elizabeth, Sheryl and Abigayle at Allegro Optical. I am especially grateful to them for restoring my vision and providing my new music glasses in time for three concerts I have just played. I am a very happy client.”

Why do musicians come to Allegro Optical?

We are an independent family-run company with an international reputation for professional excellence and an inventive approach to meeting customer needs.

Allegro Optical is now known internationally as the ‘Musicians Opticians’ and is attracting clients from across Europe and beyond. With our groundbreaking work with musicians, conductors, and performers, Allegro Optical became the first and only opticians to gain registration with the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM).

It is true that no two musicians are alike, so why should their vision correction be the same? The lenses we create for musicians are designed to meet their unique needs. We understand their situation because we are musicians ourselves.

Award-winning eye-care

Allegro Optical has been so successful in helping performers that we have won many national and regional awards. These awards include the National ‘Best New Arts & Entertainment Business of the Year‘ 2019. In the same year Managing Director Sheryl Doe was awarded the ‘Dispensing Optician of the Year‘ an achievement repeated in 2021 by another Allegro Optical Dispensing Optician Kim Walker.

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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