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Now Yanna can see the music

A talented pianist’s search for help to see the music

In this blog, we look at how a talented and inspiring Pianist was helped by our specialist musicians’ glasses. Yanna is a fascinating woman, and it has been a pleasure to collaborate with her. Her music history encompasses the traditions of her family’s heritage, (Asia Minor) and the complexity of her musical background, as evidenced by a successful career as a teacher, concert pianist, conductor, and accompanist.

Yanna was born in Thessaloniki, Greece and is a proud citizen of both Greece and the UK. She grew up with a wide range of musical influences from her parents’ unusual musical interests that covered everything from Greek folk music and Theodorakis to Tchaikovsky and Bartok.

Time to TangoA person playing a piano

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From a young age, Yanna played the piano for her parents and their friends, reading from a piece of faded photocopied ‘fake’ sheet music with all the fashionable tangos, waltzes and ballads of the 1930s and 40s as they all sang in harmony.

Yanna is an experienced pianist and accompanist. In 1987 she was awarded the Dimitri Sgouros ‘Prize and Scholarship’ by the New Conservatory of Thessaloniki from where she graduated in 1988 with the ‘Diploma for Piano performance and teaching’. 

London Calling

She continued her piano and conducting studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where she was awarded the Cipriani Potter Exhibition prize during her second year as an ‘Advanced Studies’ student. She graduated with the ‘Diploma of Advanced Studies’ in 1990. Yanna moved to the US in 1991 where she gained her Master’s degree in ‘Piano Performance and Literature’ at the Eastman School of Music, Rochester NY U.S.A. in 1993.

After a 10-year worldwide concert career, Yanna settled in the UK where she raised a family, taught the piano privately and classroom music since 1993. Since 2018, Yanna is getting back to performing professionally and is currently preparing her first solo CD album which is due to be released in December 2022.

In 2018 Yanna co-founded ANIMO, a flute and piano duo, with her friend Sarah Waycott. Since 2019, she is the proud owner of a Gustav Klimt (Goldene Adele) Bosendorfer 214 VC which she has used for several recordings, Animo’s first and second CD albums and weekly Livestreams during the last few years.
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Yanna needed to see the music

Having always had a relatively high myopic prescription Yanna is an experienced spectacle wearer. However, the varied focusing distance required of a professional pianist was beginning to present her with the problems associated with presbyopia which are very familiar to us at Allegro Optical. Yanna needed to see her music on the stand, her musical collaborators and ideally a good view in her periphery.

Yanna first contacted Allegro Optical in February 2020, just before the COVI|D-19 crisis and the ensuing national lockdown.

She explained that she played a grand piano and had begun to struggle with blurry notes and indistinguishable shapes and lines. Yanna told us that when playing professionally and performing downlighters or overhead lighting reflected and displaced the image she saw. This caused all the notes to become blurry. The reading glasses that were made for her were impractical and her varifocal lenses gave too narrow a field of view.

Yanna booked her first appointment with Allegro Optical for Friday 27th March in Greenfield, Saddleworth. That was unfortunately postponed due to the first 2020 lockdown and Yanna didn’t get to visit us until September the same year. In the meantime, Yanna began having some issues with a retinal tear and was referred to Birmingham Midland Eye Center for further advice and investigation.

Following her discharge from the hospital in August 2020, Yanna contacted us again and we arranged an appointment in September of the same year.

A bit of a conundrum

The day of Yanna’s visit was an extremely busy day, with a very full clinic. Optometrist and flautist Amy carried out a thorough eye examination and noted Yanna’s complex ocular history and her many working distances. She then produced a prescription

covering all Yanna’s working distances and then introducing her to dispensing optician Sheryl.

Sheryl took all of Yanna’s facial measurements to help her find a frame that fitted perfectly, both in terms of comfort and performance. Well-fitted frames would provide the perfect mount for Yanna’s complex lenses. The frame also had to be practical but reflect Yanna’s unique style and work with her deep colouring. They also had to stay put while Yanna was playing. Little did the pair realise this meeting was to be the start of a long-time collaboration and Yanna now works with Allegro Optical to help us develop musicians’ eye care further and to raise awareness among performing artists of the need for specialist eye care.

Multiple distances require multiple solutions

After some discussion, Sheryl was concerned that including her correction for an elevated music stand in one pair, would compromise Yanna’s field of view and posture. To give the very best solution they settled on one pair of varifocals for everyday wear and another for use with a music stand.

Yanna opted for a Hook LDN HKS011 frame in Navy and Tortoise as the colours complimented her colouring, reflecting her personality while providing a comfortable fit and good lens size. We glazed these lenses with an individualised freeform varifocal in 1.74 index lenses with Transitions® Signature® GEN 8™, the first intelligent photochromic lens with their breakthrough nanocomposite technology that enhances photochromic performance and provides optimal vision, comfort and all-day protection.

Something for the piano

To provide the widest possible area for music (about 1.2 meters across and elevated) Sheryl dispensed a pair of spectacles with our Fogoto lenses to provide the widest and deepest field possible.

This time Yanna opted for a traditional yet iconic style of frame, choosing the Anglo American 313, HYBG. Again we decided to glaze these lenses with Transitions® Signature® GEN 8™. Yanna’s music room has a lot of glass with two huge windows. Glare is often a problem and a photochromic lens option appealed to her.

Things don’t always go to plan

When Yanna collected her new spectacles she was delighted with the varifocals, but it quickly became apparent that there was an issue with the right eye in the music spectacles. While the vision in her left eye was in her words “amazing” the music in the right side of her right eye appears blurred. We invited Yanna back for further investigation. Optometrist and Gospel Singer Gemma carried out a detailed eye exam and found that Yanna had some partial defects on her binocular visual field exam, possibly caused by some slight scarring. Yanna had developed a “Weiss ring”, a circular peripapillary attachment that forms following a Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD) from the optic nerve head. We then worked some prism into Yanna’s lens design to try to resolve the issue by moving the image she sees from the scarred area of the retina.

Yanna visited Birmingham Midland Eye Centre again in March 2021 but decided against vitrectomy surgery because of the risk of retinal detachment. In January 2022 Yanna felt she needed a change of glasses and she again travelled up to Meltham. This time she saw Optometrist and fellow pianist Liz. Liz conducted a 3D OCT examination which revealed a large mass of floaters from Yanna’s previous PVD in the right eye and a partial PVD in the left eye.

Time lapse

Since her last visit, we had invested in a Saccadic Clinical Eye Tracker allowing Liz to assess binocular function while the patient is sight-reading or making a series of saccades or performing other complex tasks. This was a game-changer for Yanna as the examination revealed her binocular vision to be a little unstable. Her fixation disparity varied and prisms now preferred the opposite to phorias. Liz also found that while the right eye was dominant in the distance Yanna was now left eye dominant near. The floaters in her right eye also seemed to be causing problems.

The trick now was to create a pair of spectacles that would help Yanna to continue playing despite all her vision problems. Sheryl designed a pair of lenses that would make the most of Yanna’s limited vision in her right eye. With a difference of nearly three diopters, there was a danger of double vision caused by differing image sizes. This was resolved by using different indices and asphericising the right lens to reduce minification. Using computer numeric control technology we were able to create a lens that minimised optical aberrations giving Yanna the best vision possible.

When Yanna collected her glasses we ran the same Saccadic Clinical Eye Tracker exam with her new glasses on. The exam revealed no binocular problems whatsoever. Yanna was delighted and it wasn’t long before she left the following Google review.

Yanna said; “Probably the most thorough, knowledgeable and persistent in getting results opticians I have ever encountered! I went to Allegro Optical initially for musician’s glasses. I really wanted to be able to see more when performing on stage and to be able to communicate with my duo colleagues rather than looking at a foggy outline or having to swap glasses all the time.  Unfortunately, a retinal tear that developed immediately after I made my first appointment in 2020 and COVID getting in the way of everything, we had to work around many difficulties, none of which deterred the owner Sheryl Doe, who was determined to make me the best possible pair of glasses as close to the original brief as possible. And in April 2022 they did! I am the very happy owner of two fantastic pairs of specs, one varifocal and the other my “magic” pair for playing the piano and working on the computer. This was all possible thanks also to their new saccadic eye scanner which showed them exactly the kind of issues I had to struggle through when I was reading a score. The result is miraculous! I can see better, my eyes are more relaxed, I am not getting a single headache from reading music or working on the computer and as for my varifocals, it’s like I am not wearing glasses, that’s how comfortable they are! Allegro, Optical thank you!

I would recommend Allegro’s unique skills to anyone, particularly if you are struggling with any eye issues or you want to be able to read music effortlessly. Superb service in every way!”

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 afield. 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 and 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

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 in 2021 Allegro Optical Dispensing Optician Kim Walker scooped the same title.

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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Music

Guest blog by pianist Norma Wilson

Norma Wilson is a pianist and flautist from the West Country. She first visited Allegro Optical in 2020 and has since collaborated with us on several projects including The RSM & BAPAM, Sustaining A Career Into Old Age podcast. 

In this blog, Norma talks about how Wet Macular Degeneration has impacted her career and how she manages her condition to continue playing.

Wet Macular Degeneration – a musicians perspective.

I am a keen amateur musician.  From a young age I would borrow music scores from the library and I am a proficient sight-reader.  In 2016 I was diagnosed with Wet Macular Degeneration in both eyes. The onset was very sudden ( I noticed Fiona Bruce looked beetroot colour with a very long face when I watched the News) and when the second eye was affected I was devastated when the Eye Consultant said it could affect the way I read music. 

I had noticed that when I looked at music notation the lines were wavy, there were some blurry patches.  The main problem was the light, I would get a sparkling effect when I moved my eyes from the score to the keyboard and back again.  The light was refracted and I had a general feeling that my vision was distorted.  

Fortunately, I read an article about Allegro Optical, in SideView, the Macular Society Newsletter.  I live in Bristol but made the journey to Meltham to see if they could help me. Allegro Optical describe themselves as a musicians’ optician.  It was a very different eye assessment, I took music along, there was a piano and a music stand.  The measuring process to make me special ‘music reading glasses’ took quite a while.  Allegro Optical have a piano and music stands, so I took some music with me and my flute which I play as well as the piano. 

  • I had an eye test, which included an OCT scan, a field of vision scan my eye movements were tracked and I had an eScoop assessment for my AMD.
  • They measured the distance between the music score to my eyes both seated at the piano and standing with my flute in front of a music stand.  They were trying to find my ‘working distance’  in my case 21 “
  • My previous optician had tried several times to make me some music reading glasses, they were single view with increased magnification, but that did not address the problem and created more distortion and reduced the field of vision. 
  • Allegro Optical were considering colour and prism. They measured eye to music, eye to stand, eye to piano and how wide my field of vision was. I was persuaded to have a slight yellow filter, I have to say this has helped reduce the sense of eye strain. 

When we consider how a musician reads a score we know that

  • You often read more than one line at a time, treble and bass clefs, but if you play with other people you read across four or more staves.  Your eyes are looking up and down and across. If you then turn your gaze away from the score to look at your fellow musicians you are looking into a different light source and back again. 
  • Light is of the essence, so getting advice on this is important. 
  • Relying solely on reading from a paper score is not always easy so over the years I have been advised to get an IPad Pro (larger iPad A4) and to use several Apps:
  • it depends greatly on which software is used, but Scoringnotes.com for instance tends to make adaptations that work for the visual effect of the score.
    > More detailed information on this can be found here:
    https://www.imore.com/best-music-reading-apps-ipad
    https://www.musicnotes.com/now/tips/the-3-best-hands-free-page-turners/
  • IMSLP  International Music Score Library Project  it started in February 2006. It is a project for the creation of a virtual library of public domain music scores based on the wiki principal. There is  forScore, Piascore, Musescore etc

I was advised that I scan my own score and then get it in Dropbox and then get that into the App ForScore which I use on the iPad. But whether or not you do that or just download, the important thing to get it bigger is to have an iPad Pro (large screen size) and then turn it on its side. That makes the music much bigger—though of course then you have to turn the page twice as much! Using an iPad also helps because it is backlit so the light is more consistent. 

It is important for me that I continue to play music as I age and with my specialist music reading glasses, iPad and the use of various Apps I know I can continue for many years to come. 

Norma Wilson

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News

Wind Musicians and Glaucoma January is Glaucoma Awareness Month at the “Musicians’ Optician”

The month of January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness of the leading cause of irreversible blindness. We take Glaucoma very seriously at Allegro Optical since many of our staff members are wind instrumentalists. 

Researchers have recently concluded that musicians who play high-resistance wind instruments may be more inclined to develop glaucoma. This is because blowing into high-resistance wind instruments causes the body to automatically perform a Valsalva manoeuvre in response to certain stimuli. Wind instrumentalists take a breath, but before they begin playing there is a momentary hesitation as their tongues rise up and lock in place, building up air pressure in their mouth.

Focusing on musicians eye pressure

JS Schuman demonstrated in 2000 that playing notes with high resistance and amplitude increases eye pressure significantly. When playing their instruments, high- and low-resistance wind musicians experience a transient increase in intraocular pressure (IOP). Optometrists measure this with the puff of air test. Players with high resistance to wind experience a greater increase in IOP than those with low resistance to wind. 

A small but significantly higher incidence of visual field loss (loss of peripheral vision) was observed among wind musicians who had high resistance.  According to JS Schuman, long-term intermittent elevations in IOP during the playing of high-resistance wind instruments, such as a trumpet, can result in glaucomatous damage that could be misdiagnosed as normal-tension glaucoma.

Soprano and Alto Saxophonists, French Horn players, Soprano Cornet players and Oboists experienced smaller increases in IOP. Once a musician stops blowing into the instrument, the IOP returns to normal. During playing instruments, these players may experience “transient” (in terms of hours) periods of increased eye pressure. Because it has not been studied, no one knows how common glaucoma is among high-resistance wind instrument players. A musician who has more than one risk factor is probably more susceptible to glaucoma. A short-sighted professional trumpet player with a family history of glaucoma, for example, would have an extremely high risk of developing glaucoma.

Who Is Susceptible To Glaucoma?

Glaucoma and its effects should be of concern to everyone. Some people are at greater risk of developing this disease because of certain conditions related to it. Among them are:

  1. Those with a family history of glaucoma.
  2. People of Afro-Caribbean origin are four times more likely to get glaucoma than Caucasians.
  3. Short-sightedness (needing glasses to see at distance) increases the risk of developing primary open-angle glaucoma. Another type of glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma, is more common in long-sighted individuals (who require glasses for near tasks).
  4. Glaucoma is also more likely to affect people with diabetes, those who have had eye injuries, or those who have had long-term treatment with steroids.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is not one disease. In reality, it is caused by various diseases that affect the eye. These diseases cause glaucoma by gradually deteriorating the cells of the optic nerve, which transmits visual impulses from the eye to the brain. The nature of glaucoma can be clarified by understanding how the eye works.

An eye is filled with a jelly-like substance referred to as vitreous. In the front of the eye, a small compartment, the anterior chamber, is filled with a watery fluid, the aqueous humor, which not only nourishes the cornea and lens but also provides the necessary pressure to maintain the eye’s shape. Intraocular pressure, or IOP, is the name given to this pressure. 

A gland behind the iris produces aqueous humor, called the ciliary body. After nourishing both the cornea and lens, it drains through a thin, spongy tissue only one-fiftieth of an inch wide, called the trabecular meshwork. As this drain clogs, aqueous humor cannot leave the eye at the speed it is produced. Consequently, the fluid backs up and the pressure in the eye increases.

Damage caused in the eye by increased pressure

The optic nerve can be damaged by glaucoma. Gradually, this nerve deteriorates, causing blind spots in the visual field, particularly in the periphery. Normally, the “cup” in the centre of the optic disc is quite small in comparison with the entire optic disc. When the optic nerve is damaged by glaucoma, the nerve fibres begin to die because of increased pressure in the eye and/or a loss of blood flow. As a result of glaucoma, the optic nerve cup enlarges (and in reality, the optic nerve enlarges as a result). Although the exact reason for this occurrence is unknown, increased eye pressure is likely to be the cause of this nerve damage. 

We all want to enjoy as long a music-making career as possible, we all know making music isn’t just a hobby, it’s a passion and a way of life. So protect your sight reading by looking after your eye health and your vision. If you can’t sight read the music on the stand you won’t be able to play it. 

Protect your vision and extend your playing career by following a few simple tips. Here are some habits that can reduce the risk of glaucoma-related vision loss include:

  • Have regular eye exams, at least once every two years
  • If you have a family history of glaucoma then have an exam every year
  • Consume lots of leafy greens and fruits
  • Regular and moderate exercise is essential
  • Stay healthy by maintaining a healthy weight
  • Consume coffee moderately, or better yet, sip tea instead
  • Avoid smoking

Give your eyes a little TLC during Glaucoma Awareness Month? Call Allegro Optical in Greenfield or Meltham to schedule an appointment! The best way to maintain good eye health is to have regular eye exams at all ages!

Categories
News

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.

Categories
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. 

 

Categories
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  

Categories
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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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