Musicians’ new glasses are a real sax…cess

Musicians’ new glasses are a real sax…cess thanks to the “Musicians’ Optician”

As opticians who specialise in the field of musicians eye care, we see our fair share of orchestral players. Due to our location, with practices each side of Saddleworth Moor we also see plenty of brass players. So you could say it was a bit of a break from the norm’ when Saxophonist and violinist Melanie Taylor from Swadlincote in Derbyshire paid us a visit. Melanie plays with a few groups, including Rebel Rebel, The Comet Rockers, 7StoreySoul and Beeston Big Band. She also teaches violin and so she needs to read music which is off to one side.

Melanie had tried varifocals in the past but had struggled with the peripheral distortion. Also the very small area for focusing on the music stand and laptop. For this reason, her optician changed her to bifocals.  Giving an intermediate or mid-range prescription in the top and reading in the bottom. This option didn’t really work, especially as when performing on stage Melanie moves around a lot. This was then changed to bifocals with the distance prescription in the top and an intermediate prescription in the bottom. Unfortunately, Melanie found the line of the segment top too high. This inferred with her playing, caused a certain amount of image jump. As the two prescriptions were for a set distance her vision was frequently blurred through the glasses and again there was a problem on stage.

Melanie’s quest to see the music

In frustration, Melanie took to the internet, desperate to find a solution. Something that would allow her to read her music on the stand, move around and teach. Melanie came across Allegro Optical and arranged a consultation. As luck would have it, Melanie had her initial eye examination with Optometrist Claire Wightman, who as a Saxophonist herself, who completely understood Melanie’s problems. She also had a very good understanding of her working distances. Following her eye examination, Melanie met with Dispensing Optician Sheryl Doe who measured all her visual fields, angles of gaze and working distances. This allowed Sheryl to design a pair of lenses to give Melanie the clearest possible vision and greatest depth of field when performing and teaching.

Sheryl also dispensed a pair of freeform digital varifocals, choosing these lenses as Melanie had previously had problems with varifocal lenses. These lenses have complex variable curves on each surface to provide the very best vision correction. By using dual surface Camber technology the manufacturer can achieve greater prescription accuracy. Utilising both sides of the lens with specific personalised measurements, gives a wider field of vision, with improved adaptability.

Melanie Taylor Saxophone with her musicians glasses from Allegro Optical, the musicians optician in Greenfield and MelthamMelanie Taylor Saxophone with her musicians glasses from Allegro Optical, the musicians optician in Saddleworth

The continuously changing surface curvature of these individualised lenses delivers an expanded reading zone and improved peripheral vision. With their sophisticated inner surface design, both surfaces work together to produce an expanded prescription range, with better cosmetics and superior near vision performance, when compared with other progressive lenses.

Now Melanie can see the music

When she collected her new glasses a few weeks later Melanie was delighted. We fitted the varifocal first and her distance vision was excellent, giving her a visual acuity of 6/5 and near acuity of N4. She commented on how much clearer the lenses were in comparison to her previous ones.

As for her musicians’ glasses, Melanie was delighted and commented on the wide field of view she had and the depth of clear vision. Melanie said; “I am delighted with my new glasses.  For the first time I can stand on stage reading my music from different distances,  walk around, dance, see my fellow band members and the audience with perfect clear vision. No more looking over the top of my glasses frames or wearing them halfway down my nose!  I can’t thank Sheryl and Claire at Allegro enough. They totally understood my needs and provide an outstanding service. The choice of frames was vast and the advice given was first class. Thank You!”

Why does Allegro Optical get it right when so many opticians can’t?

Well, the answer is simple, as musicians ourselves we completely understand the complex visual needs of performers. As mature players ourselves we know how difficult it can be to read those accidentals. Also to distinguish between a natural and a sharp. Especially when sight reading a fast tempo piece of music for the first time.

Sometime after age forty, nearly everyone experiences a phenomenon known as presbyopia. We often hear clients refer to it as the “optical trombone effect”. Like a trombonist reaching for sixth position, we have to push things further and further away to get any clarity. The situation becomes even worse with fine print or in dim light. Presbyopia is a form of long-sightedness caused by loss of elasticity of the lens of the eye. It usually occurs in middle and old age. Losing the ability to focus properly can be devastating to a lifelong musician and can become a serious threat to both careers and livelihoods.

Sadly as Melanie experienced many optometrists and dispensing opticians suggest either varifocals, which often exacerbate the problems due to the narrow corridor. Or they recommend bifocals or occupational lenses neither of which provide a satisfactory solution as they are designed for the job. At Allegro Optical we use a unique lens design, designed with musicians’ in mind. Every lens we dispense is different and takes into account, the instrument played, the musicians playing position and posture when playing and during rest periods. We know that most musicians breathe in phrases, both when playing wind and other instruments. This can also affect posture and the pupil’s position behind the lens. We never use an “off the shelf” lens design and we’ve yet to meet a musician who we would consider “off the shelf”!

Melanie Taylor playing Saxophone and violin with Rebel Rebel buys her glasses from Allegro Optical the musicians optician

Specialist eye care for musicians and performers

Allegro Optical specialises in all aspects of performers’ vision correction to return and enhance their performance experience.  The Allegro Optical team has over 150 combined years’ experience in the optics and entertainment industry. In March Allegro Optical even won the coveted Arts and Entertainment Business of the Year award. While Dispensing Optician and co-founder Sheryl Doe is the current holder of the Optician Award Dispensing Optician of the Year.

So whether you want advice or a practical solution call Allegro Optical in Greenfield, Saddleworth on 01457 353100 or Meltham, Holmfirth on 01484 907090 or visit

AMD and the performing artist

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a degenerative eye disease that can significantly impact the lives and careers of performing artists, particularly musicians. The disease progresses

Read More »