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Poor eye sight and posture

Posture and Eye Sight

Anatomical links affect more than your learning ability, they can influence your health as well. This blog explores the connection between posture and vision. Or in short, how poor vision can affect a performers posture, the related pain and how it can impact on performance.

From the Eyes to the Brain

The eyes are an integral part of our brain, directly connected to our central nervous system. Light is processed by our eyes in order to see. As the beams hit our retinas, they activate rods and cones located in the photoreceptors.

The retina converts the light it receives into electrical impulses that travel along the optic nerve to the brain’s visual cortex.

From the brain to the spine

The visual cortex interprets impulses and uses them to determine how the body should respond. The brain transmits messages down the spinal cord to tell our bodies how to respond to what it sees.

Good posture allows the brain to communicate fast and uninterruptedly through the spine. Each of our five senses, including sight, helps our brain control our body.

But what if the eyes can’t see clearly

Poor eyesight often causes us to squint, lean forward, or tilt our heads into an unnatural position in order to see more clearly. These movements lead to neck, shoulder, and head muscle tightness. This maladjustment can lead to decreased blood flow to and impulse connections between our eyes and the rest of our body over time.

With time, slumped or hunched posture damages the connections between the spinal cord and the brain. In this manner, a lag appears between the moment when our eyes observe an object and the moment when our brain analyses its image and our bodies react to the object. In fact, poor posture can result in many health issues, including slowed circulation, shallow breathing, and blurred vision. All of which impedes our performance and can often affect the sound a musician makes, especially when playing a wind instrument.

When one piece of the puzzle fails

If we have a good posture and decent eyesight (or if it is well corrected), our spine and eyes are well connected. Vision problems, however, interfere with this connection and can have serious health consequences. These may include:

•    Blurred vision, difficulty focusing and even dry sore eyes

•    Fatigue or eye strain

•    Headaches or head pressure

•    Musculoskeletal pain, including headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and   ……back pain

•    Numbness and muscle weakness caused by decreased circulation

•    Spinal or neck misalignment

•    Pain in all parts of the body, including the limbs

Improving performance

Symptoms such as these, when combined with posture problems, can affect your health. If you suspect it is a combination of vision and posture problems, contact Allegro Optical, the musicians optician.

We will begin by evaluating your eyesight. We can tell you if, and to what extent, the way you see affects the way your body functions. You can improve your health by identifying your vision characteristics, even if you wear glasses or contact lenses for vision correction.

In order to make sure our optometrist has all the information they need to help you regain your health, take note of your symptoms and inform them. Important information includes:

•    Treatment you have tried before the current appointment and how well it all worked

•    How often your symptoms occur

•    How severe your symptoms are

•    Where you feel pain, pressure, or discomfort

•    The time of day when symptoms occur

There are several options you can try to relieve your symptoms, including lubricant drops, a more accurate prescription, or new bespoke spectacle lenses or contact lenses. If necessary, you may also need to contact other professionals for assistance.

Consider the effect your eyesight and posture have on one another. Good eyesight supports good posture.

For more information about how you can improve your eye health, how your eyesight affects the rest of your body, call Allegro Optical on Greenfield 01457 353100 and Meltham 01484 907090 and speak to one of our team.

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News

Meet the team – Clinical Support Technician & Trainee Manager James Brooks

Clinical Support Technician & Trainee Manager James Brooks talks about music, glasses and his job

As a child, I wanted to play the trombone. As Diggle’s training band had none spare, I was given a baritone to learn. I enjoyed learning the valves and picked them up very quickly and thoroughly enjoyed myself. After moving up to Diggle ‘B’ Band, it soon became apparent that I needed a bigger instrument. A tenor horn player once complained to the conductor that I was too loud and it was hurting her ears! I was given a Euphonium at the next rehearsal. As the parts were much more interesting, and I had a chance to show off much more on the instrument, I quickly fell in love with it.

Making Music

Competition, or more specifically winning, is what I enjoy most about playing in a brass band. I am lucky enough to have won many many contests with Oldham Band (Lees). I have had some of the happiest and most memorable days of my life participating in brass band contests. Aside from competing, I enjoy being part of a band that makes a big, full sound from top to bottom.

Glasses and how I #SeeTheMusic

Although I wear single vision glasses, I have worn contact lenses in the past. Fortunately, I am young and lucky enough to only require a single vision correction. I started wearing glasses around age 16. Since my first eye test at 16, I gradually became more short sighted, however, my eyesight appears to have stabilised.

During a period of 10 to 12 years, my poor vision affected how I played as my vision changed. Every year, I found that I had to change my glasses because I could not read the music clearly and was having difficulty with semiquavers, accidentals, and notations.

Fortunately, I never needed anything out of the ordinary since I have just a simple correction. In spite of mentioning that I was a musician who was struggling to read my music, I was never offered any special tests or measurements by any of my previous opticians. Musicians have different optical needs than others, which I was unaware of.  It makes sense now! I have no problem reading music now that I have Allegro Optical glasses, no matter how small or dirty the sheet music may be.

 

The importance of prolonging playing careers

The importance of eye-care for performers cannot be overstated. It is every bit as important as hearing care, which I believe orchestras around the world fund, or at least in the UK. If a musician cannot see the music, then how can they perform and read it? It sounds so obvious but eye-care is fundamental in performing arts. Musicians will always need to read music, see conductors, see their instruments, see their colleagues, and potentially even see their audiences. Without being able to see, many musicians and performers will find themselves contemplating retirement. In fact, so many have probably already retired needlessly because of this issue when Allegro Optical has been here all this time waiting to help them.

Working for Allegro Optical is so rewarding as a musician myself. I have often seen fellow musicians who have struggled on for years with run of the mill opticians, who have been unable to fully understand their problems or how to correct them. Seeing the difference we make to people’s lives and being able to help enhance and extend their careers is such a rewarding experience. 

 

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Music

In conversation Cory Band Euphonium player Glyn Williams

Glyn Williams talks to Stephen Tighe 

“In Conversation” is to become a regular interview series, where one of our team sits down with a leading light from the world of music. From musicians to dancers, public speakers to instrument makers, the series allows us to chat with some of the creatives we most admire and talk to them in-depth about their careers, creative processes, and most importantly their vision and eyewear.

Allegro Optical, “the musician’s optician’s” Managing Director Stephen Tighe, talks to Cory Band Principal Euphonium player, Glyn Williams. They cover topics from how COVID 19 has affected the Cory band rehearsals and engagement diary to how Glyn’s new glasses from Allegro Optical have helped his playing and in everyday life.

ST – Glyn, what effect did Covid-19 had on your daily regime as a musician?
GW – “My life as a musician basically stopped during the Covid lockdowns. From four rehearsals a week (minimum) both playing and conducting plus concerts and events every weekend, we went immediately to nothing. I found it hard to motivate myself to practice my euphonium, after all for some considerable time I wasn’t sure what I was practising for! 

Fortunately, as a band, Cory Band were set a series of different challenges by MD Philip Harper. He sent us new music to challenge us and set us pieces to record individually which were then put together as full band performances over the internet. Submitting recordings of yourself certainly sharpens the focus to practice and be able to play your part! 

I also worked online with the band that I conduct, Aldbourne Band from Wiltshire, introducing them to new music and getting them involved in some online performances. Continuing with any kind of music making during Covid 19 has certainly expanded my skill set!”

ST – When banding returns to normal, what events are you looking forward to most?
GW – Things are already feeling busy again with Cory and Aldbourne. The calendar is filling up with concerts and competitions and it is such a joy to be performing live again,  rediscovering that buzz that comes with that.

Symphony Hall Photo?

Performing recently at Symphony Hall in Birmingham and at the Royal Albert Hall in London have of course been highlights.  Continuing in the contesting arena at Sage, Gateshead in November 2021 and then the British Open and European Contests, again at Symphony Hall in 2022 will be exciting. I’m also looking forward to taking Aldbourne Band to my first Area Contest with them in early 2022

ST – Were you aware that musicians had specialist needs, before contacting us?
GW – “I had never considered that being a musician made my eyesight issues special, in fact I don’t think I had ever mentioned reading music to an optician before”. 

Glyn has a broad temple, so finding a frame that fitted him well was crucial. Fitting is very important to the performance of a pair of spectacles. Glyn chose the Jaguar 32005 in colour 4567. By choosing Jaguar, eyewear doesn’t have to be an unattractive necessity, but rather a style-enhancing accessory that will complement your look. Made from Acetate, these grey and blue coloured frames look great on Glyn and are perfect for any occasion

Having been myopic since childhood, Glyn was experiencing the early symptoms of presbyopia, but had managed to adapt to the changes in his vision to some degree. As we age, our eye’s lens hardens, leading to presbyopia. The less flexible our crystalline  lens becomes, the less it can change shape to focus on close-ups. The result is out of focus images.

ST- How are you finding your new spectacles?
GW – “What can I say? My new lenses are absolutely perfect. I have been wearing glasses since I was 9 years old and cannot be without them. These spectacles basically correct everything for me… and made me realise how much I had been struggling before”.

Photo of Glyn in new specs in band uniform

Taking into account Glyn’s very high myopia (short sight), Dispensing Optician Abigayle Doe recommended high index digital lenses. Digital lenses eliminate many aberrations that are unavoidable in conventional lenses. The treatment allows for wider fields of vision that are up to 20% wider than traditional lens surfacing and is six times more accurate than traditional lens surfacing.

ST – What difference has it made?
GW – “Being able to see my music and function as a performing musician is crucial to my daily life. I now know that I need to be comfortable reading music to play, reading a score to conduct… as well as being able to see a computer, watch the tv and not least, be able to see to drive safely! The staff at Allegro understand this and offer solutions”. 

ST – Can you see how performing arts eye-care can be of benefit to prolonging musical careers?
GW – “Frustration is something that doesn’t work or help with being a musician. Being able to actually see your music takes care of that aspect of performance. If I can’t see I can’t be a musician. Fact”.

Helping musicians to #SeeTheMusic

Brass band veteran Stephen Tighe tells 4BR: “Focusing at different distances can be a real challenge for musicians.”

The different focal distances demanded in brass banding pose a challenge to many people. A musician may also experience postural problems brought on by deteriorating vision.

We have a team of optical professionals who understand the playing and seating positions of professional musicians. By working together our teams of dispensing opticians and optometrists are able to assist musicians in overcoming these difficulties so that their working and playing lives can be improved.

Many musicians who experience focusing problems at different distances are unaware that there is a solution to their vision problems. Now thanks to our specialised eye exams, dispensing procedures and unique lenses these problems can be overcome.”

Contact:

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

Alternatively call Greenfield 01457 353100 or Meltham 01484 907090  

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Music

62% of Musicians need glasses to see the music

According to a Dutch study 

A 2016 Dutch study into visual complaints and eye problems in musicians, noted that of 118 professional and amateur musicians, 61% of the professionals and 63% of amateurs required some kind of eye correction for playing (62% of the professionals). 

Neil Parkin, Principal Baritone player for Cockerton Prize Silver Band in Darlington, and one of the organisers of the Dr Martin’s Wainstone’s Cup Competition*, was experiencing difficulty viewing the music on his music stand. As a spectacle-wearing musician, Neil is not unusual. A longtime wearer of varifocals, he was becoming increasingly frustrated during band practice. Neil was struggling to see his conductor and music.

Performing Arts Eye-Care

The team at the musicians’ optician, Allegro Optical, are fully aware of the many challenges performers with refractive errors can face. Naturals and sharps are the first problems to present themselves, then accidentals and dynamics follow suit. The spectacle-wearing musicians’ patience is tested by less-than-perfectly printed music under poor lighting. 

A magazine article by Cory Band Flugelhorn soloist, Helen Williams, addressed all of Neil’s problems. Helen described her own journey to find a workable solution to her vision difficulties. Having been frustrated after visiting a well-known high street optician, Helen became acquainted with Allegro Optical at the 2018 North West Area Brass Band Championships. Visiting their Meltham shortly after. Helen  has been a staunch supporter ever since. Shortly after reading the article, the UK was placed under lockdown, and group music making was impossible. 

Fast Forward

Fast forward 18 months and Neil was able to make the drive from Darlington to Meltham. Arriving with his instrument and with some ‘less than perfect’ sheet music Neil was ready for his performers’ eye examination.

Sara Ackroyd, a BAPAM registered Optometrist, conducted a thorough eye examination and performed a number of performer-specific tests such as Optical Coherence Tomography, and binocular field analysis. Neil’s binocular and monocular visual fields are thus mapped, allowing Sara to detect blind spots (scotomas) as well as more subtle areas of reduced vision. 

The information above was used by Sara to calculate the correct prescription for Neil to see the music on the stand and his conductor clearly. Following his examination Dispensing Optician, Sheryl Doe worked with Neil to design the perfect lens correction, even though his baritone horn blocked 55% of his right eye’s vision.

Music through a lens

Certain instruments of the ensemble can be difficult for dispensing opticians. Often instruments partially block performers’ views of the conductor and other ensemble members. 

Sheryl dispensed Neil with Allegro Optical’s unique Performers OV lenses, suitable for musicians who play smaller instruments that partially obscure their vision. The lenses compensate for the field loss the instruments cause while balancing the musicians’ vision.Perfectly Framed 

Neil chose two frames from the Danish brand EVATIK, one pair of regular varifocals and another set of music glasses glazed with Allegro Optical’s Performers OV lenses.

Evatik frames are composed of lightweight materials such as acetate, stainless steel, and titanium. Neil selected two EVATIK E9178 frames in blue and bronze. A semi-rimless supra design gives Neil the benefit of having a clear view to the very edge of his lenses.

Seeing is believing

Neil picked up his new glasses a few weeks later and was pleased with how clear they were. Neil brought his instrument to his collection appointment so that he could check his vision with the glasses. In testing his vision with some sheet music, Neil managed to see all key signatures, accidentals, and dynamics without any trouble, even some fading notation was evident.

Several weeks later, we contacted Neil to see how his new glasses were doing. Neil replied:  “I couldn’t be happier with my new music glasses. It is lovely to freely glance from music to conductor without any issues caused by changes in focus. Semi quavers and notations are once again clear and as a result, my sight-reading has improved.

“I was very impressed with Allegro Optical’s attention to detail to ensure my glasses suited my individual requirements. By closely observing me whilst playing my baritone, Allegro Optical were able to determine the exact position in the lens for the different focal points, even taking into account my head movement while breathing.

“I would recommend Allegro Optical to any musician who is struggling with their vision”.

Why do musicians visit Allegro Optical?

The musicians’ optician is gaining an international reputation. Both for professional excellence and an inventive approach to meeting customer needs.

Many of Allegro Optical’s clients are from Europe and beyond. The ground-breaking work of Allegro Optical with performers, players, and conductors led to Allegro Optical becoming the first and only optician to gain registration with the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM).

Over the last three years, the team has been honoured with eight national and regional awards. The business has won a number of awards, including New Arts & Entertainment Business of the Year 2019; Dispensing Optician of the Year 2019; and two years running Most Trusted Family Run Eye Care Clinic for SME News West Yorkshire. 

*The Dr Martin Contest is an annual, world-class, brass band competition for championship section bands, which takes place in September at the Princess Alexander Auditorium, Yarm School in Stockton on Tees

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News

Why do I need to visit the optician for ear wax removal?

No more syringing

Sadly, patients with ear wax build-ups can no longer get their ears cleaned for free by their General Practitioners. A GP practice is essentially a private business, which only gets paid to deliver services that have been agreed to by the Local Clinical Commissioning Group. Clinical Commissioning Groups have stopped paying for ear wax removal, so GP practices no longer offer this service.

The large corporations such as Boots that began providing ear wax removal services have since decided to discontinue the service as well.

Consequently, a lot of people (myself included!) were unable to have their ears cleaned. It is difficult to comprehend how serious an issue excessive ear wax can be for those without it. The loss of hearing is not the only discomfort many people experience. It can also result in infections and other complications. Sadly, some of those who have attended Allegro Optical for ear wax removal didn’t feel safe driving or couldn’t do their jobs safely until they had the wax removed.

At Allegro Optical we offer a safe, caring and efficient ear wax removal service. Micro-suction and irrigation are the two techniques used to remove ear wax. 

Isn’t Irrigation the same as syringing?

The removal of ear wax by irrigation has entirely replaced ear syringing. Syringing the ear to clean it that is pretty much discredited. It could cause more problems than it solved and often it failed to remove ear wax. Water is controlled during irrigation, making it safer and more effective.

What is micro-suction

Micro-suction is one of the driest methods to clean the ear. Your ear is examined with a microscope by the hearing care professional. By magnifying the ear, the hearing care professional can evaluate and treat it more easily. Suction devices are used to clean the ear without using water.

The elderly who are unable to travel to the clinic may be severely affected by excessive ear wax, so we offer a mobile service that comes to their homes. In addition, we visit nursing homes and assisted living facilities. 

In another BBC article, the BBC explains why it is no longer free to remove ear wax  – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-54296737

If you are suffering from excessive ear wax, please get in touch with either Allegro Optical Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Allegro Optical Meltham on 01484 907090 to book an appointment to have your ears cleared.

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About Allegro

Janet’s Spectacular eyewear styling journey

From Boring Binns to Glorious Glasses 

We recognise that selecting new glasses is a pain for most individuals. In most other circumstances, you’re left to “self-select” your eyewear from a dizzying assortment of potentially thousands of options. This merely increases your chances of selecting the incorrect frame! Now combine the new spectacle frame dilemma with a very strong prescription and you have a recipe for disaster.

It was in early May that Janet approached us having heard about the Allegro Optical Eyewear Styling approach to choosing new glasses. Having purchased new glasses a few months earlier from a local competitor Janet was disappointed with her appearance in the glasses. Her lens thickness and her quality of vision correction. 

At Allegro Optical, we provide a more refined method of purchasing eyewear. Our Eyewear Styling Consultation enables our registered dispensing opticians to help our clients select new glasses. It is intended to alleviate the frustrations and inconveniences that come with selecting new glasses. Our individual approach saves clients considerable time and effort. It also eliminates the random and often disorderly approach to selecting new glasses. It will make the entire purchasing experience more pleasurable and gratifying. Eyewear styling clients receive expert guidance and recommendations to suit their personality, colouring, face shape and visual needs.

Time to show Janet’s true colours

After a few minutes of discussion with Janet, we were able to get to know her style preferences and attitude to colour. We then analysed Janet’s colouring and facial features, took some facial measurements and discussed her lens preferences. Our aim is to provide clients with a calm and pleasurable experience. We help them to enjoy the process of trying on frames from our hand-curated range of eyewear. Clients can also enjoy either a great pot of tea or a cafetière of fresh coffee. Alternatively, a glass of wine or Prosecco may be more your style.

Having spent some time with Janet, we discovered that she has a creative and natural styling personality and favours a cool colour palette. Janet has quite angular features, fabulous cheekbones and beautifully arched brows which we wanted to accentuate. 

We selected six frames of the correct size for Janet to choose from, she settled on the very first one we showed her, a stunning frame by Oliver Goldsmith. A beautiful medium grey tortoise acetate with a very subtle cat-eye shape, the frame has a polished Italian acetate front, with brushed steel sides and matching temple tips.

Outside Prescriptions Welcome

Janet brought her prescription from her previous optician with her. Our Optometrist, Sara Ackroyd, checked the notated powers then we set about choosing Janet’s lenses. Janet is amblyopic, in other words, she has what is often referred to as a lazy eye and she has a very strong prescription. We settled on the thinnest possible resin lenses, choosing a 1.74 index with lenticularisation to thin the edges. 1.74 index resins are ultra-high index lens materials that are used to make lenses that are extremely thin. Perfect for Janet prescription. As Janet has quite an active lifestyle she wanted Transition lenses and favoured the grey colour change as it complimented her frames.  

On closer inspection

As Janet’s prescription is so strong she prefers to have separate glasses for reading and distance. For her reading glasses, she chose a beautiful frame by the bold Dutch manufacturer Outspoken, opting for the Outspoken OA2021. We glazed this frame with a 1.67 resin, again using lenticularisation to thin the edges. The 1.67 index lens material provides a perfect base for thinner lenses and has strong impact resistance. Again, Janet opted for a grey Transitions 8 coating so that she can enjoy reading in the sun. 

Having joined “Eyeplan” (our eye care scheme), Janet is safe in the knowledge that she has fully insured her glasses against accidental damage. The scheme also gives her unlimited eye care, whenever she needs it and preferential rates on all purchases. So it was no surprise that after collecting her first pair of glasses Janet decided to purchase some sunglasses.

Time for some fun in the sun

Janet was delighted with her reading glasses, her lens thickness and her quality of vision in them. She was so pleased, she decided to order some prescription sunglasses and settled on two pairs of Aspinal of London. Janet chose the Palmero Sunglass in two colours, the Opal and the Mink. 

While the design of these frames was inspired by the 1960s Italian glitterati culture, they still feature some contemporary elements. For a delicate designer touch, each piece is lightly decorated with Aspinal of London’s identifiable logo and branding, making these frames instantly recognisable. 

Janet opted for a very dark tinted, high index lens, with a dual surface anti-reflection coating. This helps to reduce glare and give a better cosmetic appearance. Sometimes high prescription lenses can appear to be quite thick and heavy.

Not wanting a spectacle

Now that Janet has a fantastic spectacle wardrobe, she is all set for any occasion. That said, she still wanted contact lenses for occasional use, for those moments when wearing glasses isn’t practical. Janet preferred Acuvue Oasys 1 Day Lenses as they give her the flexibility to wear them just occasionally. These lenses have a good expiry date, allowing her to keep a box for when she wants them without committing to a regular supply. Although she does have the option to have regular deliveries of just 30 pairs to her home address every three months if she wishes.

A word from the lady herself

Now Janet has a fabulous spectacle wardrobe and is enjoying her eyewear once again. We asked Janet how she felt about her eyewear styling journey with Allegro Optical. Her response was as follows;

“Too often I have felt a sense of ‘making-do’ with frames that simply fit my prescription to avoid thick lenses, with little attention to whether they suit my face or indeed have any style or flair to them. In contrast, I am delighted with my spectacles from Allegro, as encouraged by Sheryl I chose some beautifully stylish, up-to-date frames that make me look younger and feel brighter when I see my reflection in a mirror. The attention to detail in lenses so thinned-down and neatly fitted is exceptional, and the customer care has felt personal and entirely tailored to my individual needs. What more can I say? I highly recommend Allegro Opticians and am delighted to have found a local optician that I can rely on.”

Love your eyewear

Because we wear our glasses all day and rely on them to see correctly, comfort, style and function are equally important parts of the overall glass-wearing experience. It can also make choosing the right pair of glasses seem intimidating and challenging. A qualified, GOC registered dispensing optician can guide you through the maze of choosing the right glasses for you. Our dispensing opticians are trained, eyewear stylists. They are able to suggest alternatives and even make the experience enjoyable. They will find frames that fit perfectly. Frames that are suitable for your prescription and most importantly help you to feel confident in your eyewear. 

Enjoy some eye time

The process we use is geared to making you feel comfortable with your choice of eyewear, give you confidence when wearing your glasses and help you fall in love with your eyewear. We’d also like to add that eyewear styling isn’t just for the ladies! Gentlemen can also benefit from an eyewear consultation to assist them in selecting frames that match their individuality, business persona or reflect their personality. 

Glasses can help people understand you for who you are, or they can help you portray the image you want. The idea is to get the best glasses frames to project the image you want while still suiting your personality and lifestyle. That goes for ladies and gentlemen.

Book your consultation and enjoy some eye time

With our Eyewear Styling Consultation, you’ll get more personalised service and better advice. You’ll enjoy a relaxed and courteous consultation with a member of our dispensing team, instead of looking through hundreds of frames that don’t suit you or fit you well. It could also be a lot of fun.

To book your personal eyewear styling consultation, simply call us in Greenfield, Saddleworth on 01457 35310 or Meltham, Holmfirth on 01484 907090 and have a chat with one of our friendly teams.

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About Allegro News

What will you be doing this National Eye Health Week?

Fin in trial frame small

With National Eye Health Week this month, we ask why we should look after our eyes.

Many people fear losing their vision but take very little care of their eyes. Changing this is the goal of National Eye Health Week. It’s common knowledge that eye health is important, but sometimes we need a little nudge to take action. The National Eye Health Week is the perfect opportunity to do just that. This year it runs from 20th – 26th  September. A timely reminder that our eyesight needs to be checked frequently. That means regular eye examinations.

Nearly 2 million people in the UK have severe sight loss, which can significantly affect their daily lives. Half of these people’s sight loss was avoidable. People fear losing their sight more than any other sense, yet many people fail to take care of their eye health – National Eye Health Week aims to change this!

How do I know if I need an eye test?

Our eyes should be tested every two years according to the NHS. When you haven’t had an eye exam in the last two years, pick up the phone and book an eye examination as soon as possible.

In some cases, eye tests are required more frequently. There are certain groups of people who are more likely to develop eye conditions, based on their family history and lifestyle. However, everyone needs to get regular eye exams.

In fact how about doing this eye health calculator to see your risks http://www.visionmatters.org.uk/looking-after-your-eyes/eye-health-calculator

When an eye exam is conducted, glaucoma and other eye conditions such as cataracts can be detected and treated. In fact, an optical coherence tomography scan (commonly referred to as an OCT scan)  can detect some eye conditions up to 4 years earlier. In addition to diabetes and high blood pressure, other health conditions may also be detected in an eye examination.

How to enjoy healthy eyes

We rarely consider the health of our eyes when we think about eating well, exercising, and our overall well-being. Our diet, exercise habits, and alcohol consumption all affect the health of our eyes. Colourful vegetables, leafy greens, eggs, and Omega-3 fatty acids all help the eyes. For healthy eyes, antioxidants, especially lutein, are essential.

Exercise is important, especially at an older age, as it may reduce the risk of blindness caused by conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure. Smoking poses one of the greatest health risks. After ageing, it is the leading risk factor in developing macular degeneration.

Walking in sunshine

Our eyes can be damaged by the sun, so we must protect them as much as possible. In bright weather and on the ski slopes, wear sunglasses that are branded with the CE mark – this guarantees the correct level of ultraviolet protection.

Do the right thing

If you want to keep your eyes healthy, you should eat healthily, avoid smoking, and wear protective eyewear when the sun is bright. 

Good vision is crucial to a person’s well-being, independent living, and overall quality of life. During this week, charities, health professionals, and organisations across the UK will work together.  Promoting eye health and the importance of regular exams.

Don’t leave it to chance

As part of our routine eye exams, Allegro Optical looks for changes in your vision, as well as signs of cataracts and glaucoma and more serious health conditions like diabetes. If you have a particular concern our Advanced Optometry is perfect for you. Both our routine eye examinations and our Advanced Optometry are performed by our experienced and friendly team of optometrists and typically take between 45 minutes and an hour. 

To book your Allegro Optical eye examination, please call us in Greenfield, Saddleworth on 01457 353100 of in Meltham, Holmfirth on 01484 709070 book your appointment online or pop into your nearest branch today

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Music News

Unable to focus on his music, Bob was going tuba loopy

Bob Hallett Eb Bass

When Bob was unable to focus on his music he contacted the musician’s optician

Making Music has been challenging for us all over the last eighteen months. Many people have been furloughed and others have had to deal with homeworking. Some of us have continued to go into work but in a very different socially distanced environment.

Musicians all over the world have stayed at home during the COVID 19 lockdown. Slowly and thankfully, we are beginning to leave behind the restrictions of mask-wearing, social distancing and hand sanitising. Life is starting to return to ‘near’ normal. As a result, we have seen a steady stream of musicians in practice. In fact, we’ve been so busy, we’ve not really had time to produce many case studies.

Retired military bandsman and Eb Bass player Bob Hallet, is an old friend of MD Stephen’s and was finding playing very problematic. Bob currently plays for Cleethorpes Band, one of the oldest in Lincolnshire, with a history stretching back to 1880. Focusing on the music on his music stand had become a real challenge for Bob. So was looking up and seeing the conductor. Bob was finding that his bifocals were just not up to the job. As a result, he contacted Allegro Optical to see if we could help.

Looking for a solution

Bob came for a performers’ eye examination in early June. He explained that he was having problems seeing his music on the stand in rehearsals. Also focusing on the conductor was difficult. Bob found the music became clearer when he moved his music stand closer, but this wasn’t practical when playing the tuba. The line of his existing bifocal lenses was also causing problems and got in the way when Bob was playing. All in all, it wasn’t an ideal situation.

The Exam

BAPAM registered Optometrist Sara Ackroyd conducted a thorough eye examination, followed by a series of Optical Coherence Tomography Scans to help her see what was going on beneath the surface of Bob’s retinas. The OCT scans provide Sara with a picture of the layers of Bob’s retina. Layers that can’t be seen on a retinal photograph. Sara was able to produce images of the many layers of Bob’s retina and also to measure the thickness of those layers. By using the OCT images, Sara could also examine Bob’s optic nerve head at the back of the eye and evaluate any disorders of the optic nerve.

Following the OCT examination, Sara conducted a full visual field analysis to determine Bob’s entire field of vision. This measured Bob’s central and peripheral (side) vision. Sara created a map of Bob’s visual fields of each eye individually, allowing her to detect any blind spots (scotomas) as well as more subtle areas of dim vision. 

Once armed with all the above information, Sara was able to calculate the perfect prescription to help Bob see his music on the stand clearly and see his conductor with ease. It now fell to dispensing optician Sheryl Doe to create a lens design that could provide Bob with the very best vision that Sara could prescribe, even though his Tuba obscures 75% of his visual field in his right eye, which we discovered is his dominant eye.

It’s all in the lenses

The bigger instruments of the ensemble often present a bit of a problem to the dispensing optician. Particularly as they often partially block the musicians’ view of the conductor and of other members of the ensemble. 

Sheryl dispensed Bob with our unique Fagotto CR lenses, these are perfect for any musician who plays an instrument that partially obscures their view. These lenses compensate for the field loss caused by the instrument itself.

Perfectly Framed

Bob chose a frame by the minimalistic Danish brand EVATIK. Created using a combination of high-quality lightweight materials, EVATIK produces modern yet masculine frames. Frame styles include full rim, semi-rimless and rimless modes in acetate, stainless steel and titanium. Perfect for his cool, muted colouring, Bob opted for an EVATIK E9178 in Charcoal, by choosing a supra frame, Bob maximised his field of view allowing him to see clearly to the very edge of the lenses. 

The verdict

Bob collected his new glasses a few weeks later and was delighted with the clarity his new lenses provided. Having brought his instrument with him to his collection appointment, Bob was able to check his vision with the glasses in practice. We set up the music stand and placed some sheet music on it to check his vision. Before the appointment we had asked Bob to choose some less than perfect sheet music, the tattier the better. We wanted to check that the correction worked in less than ideal situations. Most musicians are familiar with trying to read old music on faded paper, or music with lots of scribbled notations. Bob managed well and could see all the key signatures, accidentals and dynamics with ease. He could even make out the old faded notations.

A few weeks later we contacted Bob and asked him how he was getting on with his new glasses. Bob’s response was I think we all start to struggle with our eyesight as we mature but as a musician, we face challenges that optometrists seem unable to understand let alone solve and that’s why I took a trip down Meltham and to see my old comrade ‘Steve’ from my army days.

The comprehensive eye test was unusual as I took my tuba. Sara spent a long time in the playing position discussing, adjusting, checking and rechecking so that I could focus fully on an entire sheet of music and observe the Musical Director without the lag of refocusing which was one of my main issues.

In short, I’m extremely happy with my new glasses and I can highly recommend that any musician struggling with eyesight issues make a trip to see them.”

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 2019 Managing Director Sheryl Doe was awarded the 2019 Dispensing Optician of the Year and this year the business was awarded West Yorkshire’s Most Trusted Family Run Eye Care Clinic for the second year running. 

Allegro Optical has been featured in many national publications including The Times, 4BarsRest, The British Bandsman magazine 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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The Times They Are a-Changin’ as Elizabeth Holmes joins the Allegro Optical Optometry team

Liz H Optometrist Allegro Optical the musicians optician with OCT in Meltham

Elizabeth Holmes joins the Allegro Optical team

As Bob Dylan famously sang, “The Times They Are a-Changin’” and that is certainly true here at the Musicians’ Optician. No one could deny what a turbulent few months we’ve all experienced. The team has kept incredibly busy throughout the pandemic. As a result, we have needed more hands to the pump as Allegro Optical continues to grow. 

The team continues to grow

We are thrilled to welcome our new Optometrist, Elizabeth Holmes, to join our optometry team. Elizabeth graduated from the University of Bradford, in 2008. She then worked as an optometrist in Bradford, Girlington, Otley and Ilkley. Elizabeth later became the resident Optometrist at Tunnacliffe and Lambert Opticians in Bradford and Farsley.

Elizabeth has completed the  Certificate in Glaucoma from The College of Optometrists, allowing her to manage stable glaucoma patients care in the community. She has also gained higher professional qualifications in Minor Eye Conditions allowing her to participate in both the local PEARS (Primary emergency acute referral service) in Meltham and the CUES (Community Urgent Eyecare Service) in Greenfield. Elizabeth is now working towards her BAPAM (British Association for Performing Arts Medicine) accreditation. Allegro Optical is the first and only optician in the UK to become registered practitioners of the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM).

More than meets the eye

In her spare time, like the rest of the Allegro Optical team, Elizabeth loves to make music. She is a talented Pianist and Clarinetist and she has taken advanced clarinet lessons at the Royal Northern College of Music. Elizabeth was a member of the City of Hull Youth Symphonic Windband before going to university. While studying for her optometry degree  Elizabeth was the Principal Clarinettist in the University of Bradford Symphony Orchestra. In addition to her orchestral commitments, Elizabeth and her husband were part of a band that played for events and weddings.

When not at work or making music Elizabeth enjoys swimming, Pilates, aerobic style exercise to keep fit and gardening. 

Elizabeth is registered with:

  • General Optical Council (GOC)
  • Association of Optometrists (AOP)
  • Ophthalmic Performers list OPL
  • National Health Service (NHS)

Elizabeth will be initially offering appointments on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and some Saturdays. If you require an appointment with Elizabeth just give us a call. Alternatively, Sara, Gemma and Elizabeth C are all still available to conduct your eye examination.

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Lenses are all the same! Aren’t they?

James Brooks examining a lens after surfacing

Why are lenses so expensive? They’re just bits of plastic, aren’t they?

These are questions we are often asked. The simple answer is no, lenses are not all the same. In this blog we will try our best to explain the difference between the many different types of lenses.

Different types of lenses: Digital, HD, and stock.

Have you ever wondered how your spectacle lenses are made? Advanced technologies can be used to make lenses in two main ways.
  1. Pre-manufactured Lenses
  2. Custom Manufactured Lenses

Pre-manufactured Lenses

These types of lenses also commonly known as “Stock” lenses are manufactured to a standard prescription and all lenses made to that prescription in that way are exactly the same. Once manufactured the lenses are polished. These lenses are pre-manufactured with a certain base curve, prescription and blank size. Lenses can then be coated with anti-glare, anti-scratch or both, and packaged for glazing into a frame. Once the lens is finished, optical or optometry retailers will offer these lenses for customers based on their visual needs.

Custom Manufactured Lenses

A surfaced lens is created by taking a blank piece of plastic (without any prescription) and grinding the prescription into the plastic. These lenses are custom made and are manufactured with a custom base curve, prescription and blank size.  Digital lenses utilise state-of-the-art technology to enhance quality and performance. In our digital lenses, we use camber technology to create a single vision lens that delivers superior clarity and performance. With 1/100th diopter precision, this technology allows for ultra-clear vision with minimal edge distortion. Free form lenses provide the absolute best optical quality of any digital lens. A revolutionary digital manufacturing process, Free Form uses computer-aided design and surfacing to produce high-quality, customised lenses providing the viewer with an unsurpassed visual experience.  

Just like a HD TV

Remember the first time you saw high-definition television. Do you recall how your old analog TV picture seemed pixelated and blurry? With high-definition, you can see more detail and colours appear brighter, shapes are sharper, and everything is in sharp focus. Just imagine how your glasses would feel in that situation. With your current lenses, you can probably see fine, much like watching analogue TV was fine, but what if you could see in high-definition? Try our free form digital lenses if you are looking for a better clarity of vision. Just imagine how your HD TV screen will look then! Pre-manufactured Lenses Benefits:
  • Ideal for single vision prescriptions (SPH: +3.75 to -6.00 & CYL: 0.00 to  -2.00)
  • Turnaround times that are faster (convenience)
  • The least expensive (affordable)
Negatives:
  • Size restrictions for prescriptions and blanks
  • A lens with average optical quality due to internal stress
  • After manufacturing, different parts of the lens  harden at different rates, resulting in minor vision distortions. Especially noticeable for certain prescriptions and  eye sensitivity.
  • Measures OC/seg height, pantoscopic tilt, wrap angle, and back vertex distance aren’t taken into account

Custom Manufactured Lenses

Benefits:
  • With this method, we can create almost any prescription (high SPH, CYL, ADD, Prism, etc.)
  • Have a better optical quality, since they are not subject to internal stress
  • Custom prescriptions with base curves and OC/seg heights
  • Adaptable to any frame shape with wrap for less distortion (any size blank can be made)
Negatives:
  • Custom lenses cost more, but they are well worth the extra cost due to improved visual performance

Free Form HD Lenses

Advantages:
  • Night and low light vision is exceptional with free-form lenses. Some sources of light at night, like headlights, can cause glare and halo effects.
  • Exceptional contrast perception: Freeform lenses enhance vision
  • Exceptional colour vision: By optimizing the optics inside your lenses, you’re able to enjoy brighter, more intense colors
  • With this method, we can create almost any prescription (high SPH, CYL, ADD, Prism, etc.)
  • The optical quality of these lenses is better than stock ones because they are not stressed internally
  • Custom prescriptions with base curves and OC/seg heights
  • Prescriptions based on eyewear measurements, like pantoscopic tilt, wrapping, and back vertex distance
  • Adaptable to any frame shape with wrap for less distortion (any size blank can be made)
Negatives:
  • There is an additional cost for these high definition lenses because they were custom made, but it is definitely worth it
The stock lens is like an off-the-rail suit, the digital/surfaced lens is like getting a tailored suit, and freeform lenses are like buying a suit in your size. We offer all of these lens options to our customers, and we want to educate you about the various types of lenses that are available.

A multi-award-winning approach

So successful has Allegro Optical been in helping clients to achieve optimum quality of vision that in 2020 we were awarded the SME News West Yorkshire’s Most Trusted Family Run Eye Care Clinic. In 2019 we scooped no less than five national and regional awards. These awards include National ‘Best New Arts & Entertainment Business of the Yearat a gala event in London. Managing Director Sheryl Doe was awarded the 2019 ‘Dispensing Optician of the Yearand the company has been featured in many national publications including The Times 4BarsRest, The British Bandsman and Music Teacher Magazine. Sheryl has recently been named as a judge in this years SME National Business Awards Are you struggling with your vision? If so call us at either Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090.