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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.


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 for instance tends to make adaptations that work for the visual effect of the score.
    > More detailed information on this can be found here:
  • 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


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!

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Driving Vision Standard Rules – Do you need glasses to drive?

Do you need glasses to drive abroad? We look at the minimum standard for eyesight across the world

Can you read a car number plate from 20m?  That means your vision meets the minimum eyesight standard for driving, by having a visual acuity of at least decimal 0.5 (6/12) measured on the Snellen scale, (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary). However, if you’re planning to drive abroad you need to know and meet the eyesight rules to drive.

Driving Eyesight Standards by Country

Most people know that good vision is fundamental to driving safely. It is but one of our primary senses, but around 75% of adults require corrective glasses/contact lenses. We’re not saying that 75% of adults have inadequate vision to drive. But there is a significant percentage of our population that requires a form of vision correction to drive safely. Here in the UK, the minimum standard of eyesight requirement is that a driver should be able to read a number plate from 20m. But what about if you are planning to drive abroad? 

We thought we would take a look at the mini

mum standard of eyesight required for driving in different countries to see how this compares to the UK. The results are a bit of an eye-opener (pardon the pun). If you are planning to drive in Italy or Turkey, take heed! The minimum standard of eyesight is much higher than in the UK. More interestingly and rather worryingly, is the fact that Canada has a very low threshold of just 0.4,  20/50 or 6/15 on the Snellen chart. The country with the lowest vision standard is India at just 0.33 or 6/18. No wonder driving in India can be so hazardous!

Minimum driving eyesight standard

Driving Eyesight in the EU

We may be in the process of leaving the EU, but EU rules still apply to us if we drive in the EU. An EU wide directive 2009/113/EC covers all EU countries for minimum standards of eyesight to drive, but some member states have implemented a higher requirement. The table below illustrates the eyesight requirements to drive on a country by country basis. 

The EU Directive states; “For Group 1 drivers, the visual acuity standard is binocular vision of at least 0.5 decimal (0.3 logMAR, 6/12 Snellen equivalent) and a visual field extending to 120 degrees in the horizontal meridian”. – EU wide – higher for HGV / bus/coach drivers”

Driving standards abroad table


Driving Eyesight in the USA

Things are a little different in the USA. For a start, all vision quality measurements are in imperial, as 20/40 rather than the more familiar 6/12 format used elsewhere. The minimum standard of eyesight to drive in the USA is determined by each state, but the general requirement is the same as the UK.

Do I need 20/20 Vision to Drive?

20/20 or 6/6 is considered Normal vision. It is only in Italy and Turkey that this is the minimum standard of eyesight required to drive, with the majority of counties requiring only half that standard with 20/40 (6/12) being considered acceptable.

Eyesight Test When Driving Abroad

If you hire a car abroad, you will not be required to pass an eyesight test when collecting the vehicle. The rental agent will check your driving license and other documents. But assuming that all is present and correct they will usually hand over the keys without mentioning your eyesight. It is considered the responsibility of the driver to ensure their eyesight is sufficient to drive safely within that country.

However, many countries require an up to date optical prescription when issuing a driving license. This is unlikely to affect anyone hiring a car, provided your driving license has been issued in accordance with the rules of your license issuing country. But,  you should be aware of the minimum standard of eyesight required to drive for the countries you may be visiting and renting a car. 

Eyesight Tips When Driving Abroad

Always check the minimum standard of eyesight required to drive in a foreign country before you go. We always recommend that you leave a spare pair of glasses in the car at all times (a useful tip for glasses wearers at home also). If swapping your driving glasses for sunglasses when driving, ensure your eyesight still reaches the minimum standard of eyesight required to drive in those sunglasses.

If you are concerned you may not meet the minimum standard of eyesight required to drive please feel free to give us a call and book an appointment with one of our optometrists and dispensing opticians. 

Failing a roadside eyesight test whilst driving can lead to significant fines and having your license revoked. It could invalidate your insurance. If you are involved in an accident and be found to have inadequate eyesight, you could be prosecuted.

Unsure if your eyesight is up to scratch? Give us a call in Greenfield, Saddleworth on 01457 353100 or Meltham, Holmfirth on 01484 907090

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Look after your vision after “Low Vision Month”

“Low Vision Month” is a time to look after your vision

As a provider of prescription eyewear to clients worldwide, we at Allegro Optical like to keep abreast of eye health protocols internationally. This way we can provide the very best care, and up to date advice when required.

 Some of our blog readers may, (or may not), be aware that in America, February is AMD / Low Vision Awareness month, in line with their “2020 Prevent Blindness eye health and safety observances”. This got my cogs turning. Although this is an American Care Scheme, surely it can only be a good thing for people to be aware of what low vision is. Below I have written a very brief introduction and offered some key information that I think we should all know about it.

Amy Ogden, Optometrist at Allegro Optical Opticians in Saddleworth and Holmfirth, explaines why she likes the 3D OCT scanner so much

What is low vision?

Low vision is when eyesight is impaired so much that carrying out simple tasks. Things like making a cup of tea, reading the paper, or even recognising faces, is made difficult. These tasks cannot be made easier with the use of spectacles, as they can no longer improve vision to the standard necessary to carry out these basic tasks. 

In the UK, Ophthalmologists classify low vision into two categories;

  1. Sight Impaired (SI) (referred to as partially sighted) 
  2. Severely Sight Impaired (SSI) (blind).  

With this condition, a GP or Optician will refer you to an Ophthalmologist for registration. The Ophthalmologist will measure your best-corrected vision (vision with glasses or contact lenses on) or VA’s (visual acuities). They will then carry out a visual fields test, then classify you accordingly.   If you are interested in the requirements for classification, please refer to the RNIB website which has them listed.

Being classified as blind doesn’t necessarily mean that person has no vision. This is a common misconception. Don’t be alarmed if a person registered blind can still see what colour top you have on.

What happens after registration?

If you are registered as either SI or SSI, this then entitles you to a certificate of visual impairment (CVI). This can help with the provision of extra funding for low vision aids. It can also help provide the support required to enhance the lives of those suffering from low vision. 

I would like to add as a side note, that social services will also do an assessment on those suffering from vision problems. Even for those who do not quite meet the requirements for registration. Again for a full listing of the help entitlement for those with a CVI have a look online. But for a few examples it does entitle you to a carers cinema pass, disabled person’s railcard and reduced or free bus pass. You may also be entitled to blind persons tax allowance (SSI) and the list continues…

Why does Low Vision happen?

Low vision can be caused by lots of things. It may be something you are born with due to a complication during development in the womb (eg retinopathy of prematurity). Low vision may happen during childhood due to an eye condition (eg infantile glaucoma) or trauma. It may happen in later life due to either an eye condition such as macular degeneration or glaucoma. It may happen due to infection. There are multiple different reasons for low vision, and not every person is the same. 

Can we prevent Low vision?

There isn’t an easy answer.

Some of the causes of Low Vision in the past are now treatable. For example, many people find themselves having cataract surgery in their older years. Having regular diabetic screenings, and good diabetic control can help in the prevention of diabetic retinopathy, which is a cause of low vision for some diabetics.

Regular sight tests can help in the monitoring and screening process for diseases such as AMD and glaucoma. This is particularly important where EARLY diagnosis is KEY for maintaining good sight. Making use of our 3D OCT scanner in your regular sight test will help. It can certainly AID in even earlier detection of those aforementioned pathologies.

Amy Ogden, Optometrist at Allegro Optical Opticians in Saddleworth and Holmfirth, explaines why she likes the 3D OCT scanner so much 3D OCT eye scans from Allegro Optical Opticians in Meltham

With some conditions, for example, Retinitis Pigmentosa or Keratoconus prevention isn’t so much the issue. But the improvements in medical science and revolutionary treatments have helped in this battle for sight. 

Contact lens wearers can help protect themselves against sight-threatening infections by ensuring good lens hygiene and compliance. If you need a refresher please feel free to come and see us. We will happily run a contact lens refresher course with you. 

What can be done for low vision?

For low vision, much of the treatment is about managing expectations and optimising the remaining sight available to the person. There are low vision clinics available at the hospital and in some high street practices which teach a range of techniques. For example; 

eccentric fixation – how to use the non-damaged sections of the retina see better; magnifier use – there are many types for different tasks; 

use of home help appliances for example – liquid level indicator for making drinks;  use of telescopes – (not to see to the stars) these are similar to the peephole on your door and help with distance vision.

Many of those with low vision use a  cane, (there are lot’s and lots of types). Some use one as a symbol cane – which is thin and white, often carried to alert others to the fact they have low vision. There is also cane with a rollerball, often described as a second pair of eyes. These help the user to feel the texture of the floor, and be aware of any upcoming drops or raising in the walkway, helping prevent falls. Colours of canes can have different meanings, but they can also be to the desire of the user, (if you had a cane you might want to match it to your personality too). The RNIB #HOWISEE has a fabulous video on canes as told by their users, which you might want to watch. 

And finally…

My main advice is to have regular sight tests, and if you notice any changes in your vision to get yourself checked straight away. Don’t wait until it is too late, keep on top of your vision and help keep your eyes as healthy as possible. That way those preventable diseases are kept away, and those conditions where early treatment is KEY are nipped in the bud.

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Flipping Heck Pancake Day is here

Pancake day will soon be here – Xanthe looks at what it’s all about

Pancake day is upon us, bringing with it the first day of lent and it got me thinking. Isn’t it weird that we have a day devoted to stuffing our faces with pancakes? Then the very next day we give something up?! So of course, I had to look into this further. I wanted to find out why we shovel pancakes down us. Followed by 40 days of giving something up we’d much rather keep. See when you put it like that it does sound kind of mad.

Shrove Tuesday

Pancake day also known as Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. On Shrove Tuesday we consume pancakes. The way this came about was for the sole reason of getting rid of fat, eggs and milk. Products which were seen as luxuries and would have then be given up for Lent.  Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent and it lasts for 40 days. Shrove Tuesday came from the Roman Catholic practice of “shriven” where a bell was rung from the church. The bell, known as the pancake bell would call people to come to confess their sins and then conduct Shrovetide. By conducting Shrovetide they would prepare for lent by removing temptations from their homes.

Shrove Tuesday always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday. The date varies from year to year and falls between February 3rd and March 9th. Now, while looking into this day I found that the ingredients used to make pancakes are actually symbols of significance.  Eggs symbolise creation, flour is seen as the staff of life, salt represents wholesomeness and milk is seen as purity. I bet you didn’t realise pancakes were so important and significant. I certainly didn’t!

 A bit of history

Lent is a fascinating religious season where it is commonly observed with ashes and fasting. In the early days of the Christian church, the length of lent and how it fell each year varied. However, by the 7th century, 4 days were added so it lasted 40 days to imitate the fast Jesus undertook in the desert. A practice in Rome involving grievous sinners began on the first day of Lent in the hope of absolving their sins. This eventually turned into taking part in a ritual known as Eucharist where bread and wine were consumed. During the ceremony, sinners wore sackcloth and were sprinkled with ashes. They were forced to remain apart from loved ones and other people until they were allowed back into their community on the Thursday before Easter, also known as Maundy Thursday.

By the 10th century, the placing of ashes on the heads of the entire congregation began to be observed instead. Today we still practice some of the  “shriven” rituals by giving up our own believed temptations, be they food, alcohol, cigarettes etc. The practices of Ash Wednesday, where the shape of a cross is drawn on the forehead and is a day of fasting and abstinence are still observed by many. Many faithful only eat one full meal and no meat is to be consumed.

How will you eat yours?

So, whether you can’t flipping wait (see what I did there) to stuff your face with pancakes. Or if you are psyching yourself up to giving up something you love, it’s Diet Coke for me this year (I am a little addicted). Why not send us a tweet at @AllegroOptical. Or follow us on Instagram @allegrooptical to see what we get up to as a team. Feel free to tag us in your post of pancake goodness or your lent struggles.

About Allegro News

Celebrating Great British Design

MD Stephen Tighe explains why we love Great British Design

When we set up Allegro Optical Ltd, we had three simple initial tenants or goals for the business:-

  • Customer Service First, last and always
  • Professional Staff with great skills and experience
  • Support Great “British” Design and Build as much as possible

A couple of years ago we discovered one very special British frame supplier, ASHTON RILEY. The company was founded by Brett Waugh and the brand named after his son, Ashton Riley. 

“Naming the collection after my son and using his favourite animal in the logo, (a gorilla), Ashton Riley eyewear is designed in London to reflect the needs of the consumers and to ensure it could be delivered at a price that was accessible to all”.

Our goals matched the way that they think! For example, they said when they first set up:-

 “After countless hours in optical practices, listening to the feedback on collections available in the market, it was very clear what was needed. High-quality frames in shapes that would fit as many people as possible. Whilst still delivering something that is interesting and catches the eye of the consumer”. 

In the beginning

Launching in November 2018 with 12 styles, the collection was immediately well received. Our clients in Meltham  loved the new range and once we opened in Greenfield it was equally well received. With new styles and colours added every 6-8 weeks, the collection has grown substantially. The Ashton Riley collection provides interesting but wearable shapes which are complemented by rich acetate colours.

Ashton Riley York from Allegro Optical Opticians

Balanced stainless steel frames with sophisticated detailing and interesting colour combinations ensure that most tastes are met. The design and quality, along with a very reasonable price have been very popular with our customers, both sides of the Pennines. 

Buy British

Our customers like the fact that where possible we try to keep the air miles down and support British Business.  Not for us, the mass-produced “designer” brands churned out from the many spectacle frame factories in China. We like something a little different. Spectacle frame giant Luxottica proudly features its Dongguan plant in Guangdong province, which produces over 200,000 RayBan’s a day, on its website. Not exactly exclusive!

By supporting British we are keeping jobs in the UK and giving our customers something a little more exclusive at a very reasonable price. And it won’t cost the Earth!  

Wearing a British Brand is a great experience and allows you to stand out from the crowd. If you would like to experience Great British Design and award-winning eyecare just give us a call in Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090

About Allegro News

Look after your eyes and treat them to the best 

Today we talk about how to look after your eyes

Did you know that in America February is Low Vision Awareness Month? In the UK many of us make sure we have regular eye examinations, but how many of us think about our long term eye health?  It is so easy to overlook your eyes when it comes to caring for your health, however, there are a few simple things you can do every day to help keep your eyes healthy now and in the future. Many eye conditions can lead to reduced vision so here are some easy ways to look after your eyes. 

Low vision and how to protect your eye health


Eat healthily

Eating a healthy, balanced diet reduces our risk of getting some pretty serious eye disease. Try to include plenty of omega-3 fats, these can be found in oily fish. Another nutrient is lutein, this can be found in dark-green, leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach. A green veg and beetroot slaw is perfect. Vitamins A, C and E are also very good in maintaining good eye health. It is advisable to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, particularly if you have a family history of macular degeneration (losing central vision in the eyes). 

Raw beet salad


Avoid dry eyes

In today’s world or air conditioning, electronic devices, long working hours our eyes can become dry, tired and sore. Often we don’t produce enough tears or some of us have poor-quality tears. Air-conditioning, central heating, and computer use can make dry eye symptoms worse. Many adults suffer from dry eyes due to a health condition or medication. 

Lubricating eye drops can help soothe the irritation and reduce discomfort. Taking omega-3 supplements can also help over time. Drinking plenty of water and remembering to blink often can also help. But if your eyes are persistently dry, always tell your optometrist.

Say goodbye to dry eyes with Allegro Optical Optician in Greenfield Saddleworth and Meltham Holmfirth

Take regular breaks

When we work on something up close, such as a computer, a tablet or a smartphone, our eye muscles are very active. This can cause tiredness and even headaches, even for people with perfect vision. In 2020 the 20/20/20 rule is as relevant as ever – every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds. Don’t forget to blink, this helps prevent our eyes from drying out.

Did you know that the law states that employers must arrange an eye test for display screen equipment (DSE) users if they ask for one, and provide glasses if an employee needs them only for DSE use?

Rodenstock computer glasses

DSE work does not cause permanent damage to eyes. But long spells of DSE work can lead to:

  • tired eyes
  • discomfort
  • temporary short-sightedness
  • Headaches

DSE work is visually demanding, so it can make someone aware of eyesight problems they have not noticed before (including changes in eyesight that happen with age).

Employees can help their eyes by:

  • checking the screen is well-positioned and properly adjusted
  • making sure lighting conditions are suitable
  • taking regular breaks from screen work


Even in this day and age of healthy living, many people are unaware of the link between smoking and eye disease. Smoking significantly increases the risk of developing eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. However long you have smoked it’s never too late to benefit from quitting.

Stop smoking

It could be in the genes

Many eye conditions run in families, these can be anything from simple long and short-sightedness to more serious conditions, such as glaucoma. Knowledge of relatives problems with sight can help optometrists detect a condition before it becomes serious. They can assess the problem and, if necessary, refer clients to the right place for treatment.

3D OCT from Allegro Optical Opticians long

Make time to have regular eye examinations

At Allegro Optical it’s not just a sight test, it’s an eye health check too.  An in-depth eye examination can detect signs of underlying general health conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. We all should have an eye examination every two years, or more often if your optometrist recommends it. 

‪Did you know we’re the only Optician in Saddleworth with two qualified Dispensing Opticians & 3 qualified Optometrists who work together to provide award-winning eyecare. Our optometrists can detect Glaucoma, Diabetes, Macular Degeneration, Cataract, and much more. Thanks to our 3D OCT scan they can detect these conditions up to four years earlier than traditional methods. It doesn’t just stop with the eye examination. Our DIspensing Opticians are all qualified professionals and are registered with the General Optical Council. At many optical outlets, glasses are dispensed by unqualified staff or optical assistants. This can lead to serious errors and affect your vision. ‪Always make sure you’re tested & dispensed by qualified professionals‬.

Award-winning eye-care

In the last twelve months, Allegro Optical has 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 she was a finalist in the AOP Dispensing Optician of the year 2020. Allegro Optical’s cutting edge approach to dispensing and their musical experience has led to the team being shortlisted for the prestigious Opticians Awards, Optical Assistant team of the year 2020

Allegro Optical the musicians optician Sheryl winning Dispensing Optician of the Year 2019 Award for their work with Musicians eye care

During March 2019, Allegro Optical was awarded the ‘Scale-Up Business of the Year‘ at the regional finals of the Federation of Small Business awards in York, then went on to receive the FSB Chairman’s award at the national finals in May. Finally winning the FBU Yorkshire family business of the year. Allegro Optical’s unique optical solution and our cutting edge approach to dispensing has led to the group being named finalists in the Huddersfield Examiner’s Business Awards in the Innovation and Enterprise category.

Allegro Optical Opticians winners of the FSB chairmans Awards Saddleworth and Holmfirt

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 either Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090.

About Allegro News

Meet The Team – Niamh Curran – Optical Support Assistant

Meet another member of our team

Niamh came to us on work experience and she’s been here ever since. In this month’s Meet The Team blog we talk to Niamh who is based in Meltham. We asked her a few questions, so that you can get to know her better.

Niamh Curran Optical Support Allegro Optical, the musicians optician Meltham

Tell us a little about yourself

During the week, I go to college where I’m studying biology, chemistry, history and photography, (an unusual combination I know). At the weekend I’m the Saturday girl at Allegro Optical. I’ve always been a bookworm, with my parents previously owning the bookshop, “Happy Cow Books” (I definitely remember it like the magical bookshop in You’ve Got Mail). In my spare time, I also love capturing photos, baking, listening to music and volunteering when I can. I have volunteered for the past two years at Meltham Beer Festival. My Dad organises this along with Meltham Memories, raising money for the local community. 

How did you come to work at Allegro Optical?

I came to Allegro Optical for work experience in March 2018 to gain insight into the optical industry. In July 2018 I joined the Allegro team. I have always found it fascinating how life changing a pair of glasses can be. Seeing the important process of testing someone’s eyesight, dispensing and then people receiving their glasses from the sidelines, is my favourite part of the job. As a customer you don’t see the science behind correcting someone’s vision. Or the different complications that need to be dealt with, but I do. 

Meet The Team - Niamh

What do you like about your job?

I like the social aspect of my job, talking to different people in the practice and on the phone. It has definitely improved my communication skills and my confidence. Being quite a shy person this was very daunting when I first started. I enjoy helping people so being a part of the Allegro team, who help people see, is very rewarding and fulfilling. Being a part of the Allegro team is like a second family; we all look out for each other. It definitely outweighs waking up early on a Saturday.

What are your plans for the future and what do you see yourself doing in ten years?

I aim to go to university after finishing my A levels, at the moment I know I want to continue with my science subjects, perhaps going into optics or even forensics. The optical industry merges healthcare and retail so working for Allegro Optical gives me two different angles to learn from and experience. 

About Allegro News

Xanthe looks at how our New Year resolutions are helping others

Our New Year Resolutions helping Worthy Causes

It’s January, it’s a new year, a new decade and how are your new year resolutions going! The new year as always brings the usual new year resolutions. Be they get fitter, lose weight, maybe give something up or adopt some new healthier habits.  Here at Allegro Optical we thought rather than do the norm we’d do something a little different. While we’re doing it we will  help some worthy causes in the process. This year Allegro Optical will be supporting and promoting the On Song Community Choir and Speed of Sight. On Song Choir a choir helping its members suffering with Parkinson’s Disease and their families to cope with this difficult disease. Speed of Sight is a charity which provides disabled people aged 6 to 90 and their families to take part in driving experiences. An experience which is  taken for granted by the able-bodied. If you’d like to know more about either causes then please give our blogs a read. Now as a way to help and support these two wonderful causes we’ve decided to do a sponsored slim!

Huddersfield On Song Parkinsons Choir

Speed of sight driving experience supported by Allegro Optical 3 Speed of Sight driving experiences both on track and off road throughout the UK to blind and disabled adults and children

Pounds for £

Yes, you read that correctly quite a few of us team members are doing a sponsored slim. What is a sponsored slim you ask? Well that’s a very good question! Quite frankly I had the same question when Sheryl asked if I’d like to take part. As a team we’ll be losing weight and in the process, raise money for Speed of Sight and On Song Choir. While trimming those pounds we’ll be giving the pounds to worthy causes (Personally that’s a win win for me!). I also will personally be donating £1 for every pound I lose. 

Allegro Support team. CLaire, James, JIll, Josie


A Whole New Team Building Exercise

So, as a whole team we’re hoping to lose lots of pounds. We’ll help each other reach our goals and help two wonderful causes. We have Abi to lend a helping hand with our dieting. Abi has recently lost an incredible six and a half stone in just 18 months. For any running tips we’ll head straight to Amy and Gemma who are both keen runners. Amy recently ran the Loch Ness marathon to raise money for the AMMF cancer charity last year, in memory of her Dad.  I am sure Amy and Gemma will also help to keep everyone motivated. I myself plan to train and run a 5k this summer. I’ll be raising money for both causes (pray for my feet and legs). Later in the year the whole team will be doing a sponsored  trek to the summit of Snowdon. Once at the top we plan to do something you’ve probably have never seen on the top of a mountain before. Or are ever likely to again, but you’ll have to wait for that (no spoilers). 

Bring On The Sweat

We will of course be keeping you all updated of our progress, with pictures of us sweating those pounds off and how many pounds will be turning into £ regularly. If you would like to support these two wonderful causes then you can find out all about them by visiting our blog for regular updates. I will be tracking the teams progress for you all to read and posting details of how you can support and promote them too.