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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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Why we love to buy British

British eyewear from Allegro Optical - Walter & Herbert

We just love to buy British

It’s well known that at Allegro Optical we love to buy British. We do this because buying British supports British companies and protects the jobs of our fellow UK citizens. Yes, we are all up for a bit of flag-waving and protectionism. You’ll find many of our team glued to the Last Night of the Proms. Often bobbing up and down along with the Hornpipe from Fantasia on British Sea Songs. 

But putting patriotism aside, we look at buying British from an environmental perspective more than anything else. Although we’re obviously happy to support our fellow businesses and British manufacturers as much as we can. With the UK still grappling with the economic effects of Coronavirus and an imminent Brexit. The threat of global warming hard to ignore, we feel that buying British is a must. 

At Allegro Optical we love to buy British

 

Air Miles

We all love bananas, but we don’t see these growing in the UK any time soon, even with global warming. Our morning cup of coffee will no doubt continue to be produced in either Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, Peru, Ethiopia, Vietnam or Indonesia. However, it has always seemed nonsensical for us to import massed produced, “designer label” goods. These have often travelled thousands of miles and are far from exclusive. Especially when we have such local talent in the UK. 

UK frame manufacture did go into a decline during the late nineties and early noughties, but there has been quite a resurgence in the past decade with bespoke manufactures such as Hemp Eyewear, Banton FrameWorks and Mosevic, all beginning to produce unique high-quality eyewear, based in the British Isles. We also love to support and stock the long-established British brands such as Anglo American Optical founded in 1881, Savile Row Eyewear which has been manufactured in London since 1932 and Walther and Herbert, founded in 1946, all still going strong.

It’s not just frames

Unlike many opticians, all our prescription lenses are manufactured right here in the UK. We use an independent UK based British company which produces the most comprehensive range of spectacle lenses available in the country today. Because they manufacture all the lenses on-site in Bishop’s Stortford, Caerphilly and Leeds they are able to produce lenses for complex prescriptions which are often rejected by the larger multinational groups. 

The team at the lab

We have a wonderful relationship with our lens manufacturer and know most of the lab team by name. When things go wrong it is really helpful to be able to call the lab and talk to people we know who can actually pick up the lenses we need to discuss, rather than wait on in a telephone queuing system to talk to an operator in a remote office with a lab 10,000 miles away.

There are still some excellent, UK made quality items that you can be found with a little effort. We made a point of sourcing all our PPE and COVID safety equipment from UK manufacturers where possible. Our Ozone generators are all UK made as are our sneeze and cough guards. We have also sourced many items of PPE, cleaning products and scrubs from the UK. 

Saving money but at what cost?

It has to be said that products made in Britain tend to be higher-end and therefore carry a higher price. We think price depends on priorities. At the end of the day, we all often have to consider what we can afford. But often it is a case of buying better quality items which last longer and actually saves us money. 

As Terry Pratchett famously quoted his character commander Sam Vimes Boots theory “A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars [and last for years and years]. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Anyone who can afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while a poorer man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots at the same time and would still have wet feet.”  

Terry Pratchett the economy of boots

Many of us fall victim to the trap laid out by the theory and opt for the cheaper imported goods. But are we really saving money or are we paying more in the long term? Also, is the cash saving costing more than just our hard-earned money?

Saving the planet

Nowadays, everyone knows that it is cheaper to manufacture practically anything in far-flung developing countries. To then ship them from around the globe rather than manufacture them locally. Many don’t even think twice about buying smartphones, tablets, laptops and game consoles which we know are all manufactured on the other side of the world. 

It’s relatively cheap to buy these devices and they are in plentiful supply. But have you ever considered the environmental impact of shipping these goods thousands of miles and what effect it will have on our children and grandchildren’s futures? In 2017 Apple published its environmental report for the iPhone X, revealing that a single iPhone X is estimated to produce a massive 79 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions over the course of its lifetime. That 79 kilograms of CO2 emissions is about the same as burning through 8.9 gallons of petrol or driving an average car for 463 miles. 

About 80% of these emissions come from the production of the iPhone and 15% is due to the amount you use your phone. Nothing is mentioned about the emissions produced during the shipping and distribution process, but it all adds up. 

Responsible, Recycled, Reasonable and Resplendent

We take carbon emissions into account whenever we purchase new frames or equipment. Another consideration is the material they are made from.  This is why we are particularly fond of our Sea2See range featuring fashionable frames made out of recycled plastics from the ocean. We call it “upcycling the ocean.” Our regular readers will know all about our love of sustainable and local producers and suppliers. Likewise, they will also know that we like to protect our planet. 

Recycled plastic ethical eyewear glasses spectacles from Allegro Optical OPticians in Saddleworth and Meltham Holmfirth

From the low impact Hemp Eyewear, the recycled Sea2See and the hand made natural cotton-based acetate frames from David Green many of our frames are biodegradable. We make no secret that in cash terms our frames are a little more expensive than others. But we consider the bigger picture. While we take our responsibility to our clients, our economy, our local environment and the planet seriously you can rest assured that we haven’t sacrificed style for substance. Our frames feature modern designs, vibrant colours and designer detailing. 

By sourcing our frame selection responsibly we are helping our planet and respecting our environment. Where possible we are reducing air miles by sourcing British made frames and in turn our carbon footprint. In doing this we are also supporting the British economy. Not a bad decision in what can be described as a particularly difficult and uncertain time for the UK. 

We care about your eyecare and eyewear

So when you visit Allegro Optical Opticians you can not only be sure that you will receive first-class eye care. We can guarantee it won’t cost you the Earth. If you would like to try ethical eyewear call, Greenfield, on 01457 353100 or Meltham 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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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

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Glitz, Glam and Huge Knickers by Xanthe Doe

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The festive party season is in full swing and many of us are desperately searching for that perfect dress, shimmering shoes, and beguiling bags. All so we can look absolutely fabulous at the works Christmas party. Plus making sure we don’t eat too many mince pies so we can still fit into our perfect dress…thank god for shapewear underpants!

But no party look would be complete without the perfect eye make-up. This is easier said than done for spectacle wearers, who often find this tricky to get right. Cue me spending an hour going for the smoky eye look and the end result looking more like Tai Shan the panda…but that’s a whole other story.

Whilst many of us will opt for contact lenses on a big night out, others may not be able to wear them or some just prefer to keep their frames on. But there’s absolutely no reason why we should have to sacrifice those glammed up eyes because of your specs!

Here’s some quick and easy party season make-up tricks for gorgeous spectacle wearers:

Here’s some quick and easy party season make-up tricks for gorgeous spectacle wearers:

Going Bronze

Bronze, metallic eyeshadow (my favourite!) is big in the beauty world, and for spec wearers it’s an excellent colour of choice to make your eyes really stand out. Warm metallic and shimmery shades are soft and help to lighten your eye area. The Revlon Nudes palette is a great product for mixing bronze hues, allowing you to create a more intense look that contrasts with your frames.  

Load up on Liner

Eyeliner is a spec wearers’ best friend, creating that wow, stand-out party season eye make-up look. Choose a soft black kohl such as Revlon’s Colorstay Eyeliner to line your eyes along the top and bottom lashes. Keep the line thin on the inner corners. Then  thicken it up as you sweep it across and gently smudge to create that smokey-eyed look. For more intensity, use a thin black liquid liner to outline your lashes on your top lid. Always apply a couple of coats of mascara to your top lashes.

Xanthe winter fashion

 Glamorous Glitter

If you really want real impact, glitter eyeshadow is always guaranteed to make your eyes stand out in your frames. It’s also the perfect festive party season make-up look, and is really easy to create. Whatever shade of shimmer you choose to enhance your eyes, make sure you apply a cream eyeshadow base first before adding the glitter. This helps to keep it in place.

Use a slightly damp brush to apply the glitter, dabbing on bit by bit and using gentle pressure to help it set. Use a touch of Vaseline on a piece of tissue to wipe away any excess glitter.

Xanthe goes glitter

Boost your Brows

Spectacles naturally draw attention to your brows, so make sure yours are well groomed and enhanced to make the right impact. Pluck or trim any stray hairs and use a brow defining product such as Benefit’s Browzings Eyebrow Shaping Kit to fill in any sparse spots. Sweep a light dusting of shimmer powder underneath to define your brow bone and lift your eye area.

Xanthe's brows

 And don’t forget…

  • Since you can’t apply make-up wearing your glasses, use a magnifying mirror to help you see better.
  • Curl your top lashes so they flick upwards and don’t hit your lenses.
  • The thicker your frames, the thicker your eyeliner needs to be to make your eyes stand out.
  • The colour of your eyeshadow shouldn’t compete with the colour of your frames.
  • A good rule of thumb I use when picking eyeshadow colours is to avoid picking colours, you’d find opposite on a colour wheel and swabbing them together on the back of your hand to see if they blend nicely together.

When did you last have an eye examination? If you’re overdue an eye examination why not book one today! Call Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham call 01484 907090

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A spectacular Clarinet and Baritone Duo thanks to Specialist Musicians Glasses

Specialist musicians glasses help a very musical couple

In this blog we look at how Specialist musicians glasses have helped a very talented musical couple. It’s no secret that at Allegro Optical we love music. Music and Optics are our two great passions, and we love meeting people who share our passion. Especially when we get to see them year on year. We take such pleasure in helping fellow musicians, from all walks of life, to continue doing what they love. Making music!  Making music is a wonderful thing and something that many couples love to share. Vivienne and Brian Murphy are no exception to this. Vivienne plays the clarinet and saxophone, while Brian’s instruments are the baritone horn, valved trombone and piano. While Brian has played the piano and baritone horn for some time, he had only recently taken up the valved trombone. The couple began making music together after they had retired and it’s a pastime they thoroughly enjoy. Mastering a new instrument is one thing. However, it is even more difficult when seeing the music on the stand is problematic. 

Understanding the problem

Vivienne and Brian first visited Allegro Optical opticians last year, having heard about our specialism with musicians. Vivienne is an experienced varifocal wearer.  While they were fine for everyday visual tasks, they didn’t provide a good enough field of view when she was playing. Following a comprehensive eye examination, our Optometrist, who has some experience of playing the Saxophone herself, completely understood Vivienne’s predicament and was able to find a prescription to solve her focusing problems. Vivienne then consulted Dispensing Optician Sheryl. Sheryl suggested a pair of varifocal lenses and a pair of specialist musicians glasses for music making. In some cases such as this many optical retailers will try dispensing an occupational lens for musicians. That still wouldn’t address the distances and field width Vivienne needed. Specialist musicians glasses a Godsend for musicians Vivian and Brian Murphy thanks to the musicians optician Allegro Optical DIspensing Optician of the year

The solutions

Sheryl created a completely individual lens design to enable Vivienne to see her music clearly, while still seeing the conductor. The lens design took into account the position of Vivienne’s music stand, her seating positing and the position of her conductor. Creating a clear view at all these distances. Without any of the distortion like that experienced in a varifocal or occupational lens.   While Vivienne was with Sheryl Brian also had an eye examination. Brian also wears varifocals, although he never makes music in them. Having had some neck problems in the past Brian prefered to use single vision lenses when playing his baritone horn. However, that meant that he couldn’t see the conductor very well. Just like Vivienne, we found the perfect prescription for Brian’s working distances. Sheryl created a completely individual lens design to enable him to see his music and the conductor. 

Annual Check

Jump forward twelve months and Brian and Vivienne returned to Allegro Optical for an annual check. It was so nice to catch up and hear about what they are playing and how they are getting along. As musicians ourselves we like to hear what pieces people are working on about any concerts which they may have coming up. While we were chatting we asked Brian and Vivienne how they liked their music glasses. Vivienne said: “These glasses have helped me a lot with my music. I now no longer misread the notes as I did when using my varifocal’s. So they have improved my standard of play.  I also was surprised to find that they are really useful when I use my computer.” Brian added; ” I am very pleased with these glasses.  They are particularly effective when I have to share a music stand in band practice.” Specialist musicians glasses a Godsend for musicians Vivian and Brian Murphy thanks to the musicians optician Allegro Optical DIspensing Optician of the year

Why Allegro Optical?

We are an independent family run business and we are gaining an international reputation for professional excellence and an inventive approach to solving our clients vision problems. Now known internationally as the ‘Musicians Opticians’ as we are attracting many clients from across Europe and further a field. Thanks to our groundbreaking work in the field of performers eye care Allegro Optical have become the first and only opticians to gain registration with the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM). We treat each and every client as an individual simply because they are. No two performers are the same, so why should their vision correction be? At Allegro Optical we enjoy creating unique lenses to meet performers individual needs. As musicians and performers ourselves we can ask the right questions and interpret the answers accordingly.

Award-winning eye-care

Allegro Optical has been so successful 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 she has been shortlisted for the AOP Dispensing Optician of the year 2020. During March Allegro Optical was awarded the ‘Scale-Up Business of the Year‘ at the regional finals of the Federation of Small Business awards in York and 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 Examiners Business Awards in the Innovation and Enterprise category. The company has been featured in many national publications including The Times 4BarsRest, The British Bandsman and Music Teacher Magazine. Are you are a musician who is struggling with their vision? Is making music is no longer the enjoyable experience it once was? If so call us at either Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090.
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A very specific problem for a Trombonist who just wanted to see the music

Graham just wanted to see the music

At Allegro Optical we love helping musicians to see the music and we relish a challenge.  Trombonist Graham Palmer from Wiltshire laid down a very specific challenge for us. Graham told us that he was noticing that the staves on his sheet music were merging into each other. For non musical readers, a stave is a set of five horizontal lines and four spaces used in Western musical notation to represent a different musical pitch. 

Sight reading had become very problematic for Graham as trying to distinguish which line he should be playing was almost impossible. As musicians, we usually enjoy playing a new piece, but this was far from a treat for Graham.

The problem

Graham is presbyopic and mildly astigmatic was wearing the following prescription bifocals;

RE -0.25/-0.75 x 180  Add +2.25

LE 0.00 / -1.25 x 45    Add +2.25  

With single vision glasses for music made up to;

RE +1.00/-0.75 x 180  Add +2.25

LE  +1.25/ -1.25 x 45   

While Graham’s bifocals were fine, unfortunately the music glasses just weren’t working for him. Having found a change in axis in the right eye Optometrist Gemma carried out a fixation disparity test. This was to detect any diplopia, also known as double vision at distance. She also used the Mallett unit to detect any near point convergence issues. None were detected. However when concentrating on the printed music on the stand Graham struggled to maintain the union of the visual axes and fairly quickly used up his fusional reserves. Resulting in the appearance of overlapping staves. To alleviate this problem, Gemma prescribed some vertical prism, helping  Graham to maintain his fixation when reading his music.

The solution

When dispensing lenses for musicians, I always bear in mind that they will be required to look through a central location in the lens to achieve the corrective power required for a particular working distance. This was a challenge for Graham. Because the need for a prismatic element in the lens meant that a conventional lens was out of the question. Graham needs to move his eyes to read his music. He can’t move his head due to the nature of his instrument and the restrictions of his mouthpiece.

The danger of dispensing a conventional lens is that the further off centre the wearer looks, the greater the image displacement. When the wearer looks down from the centre of a “plus” lens, Base Up prismatic effect is induced and the image appears to move downwards. However, when the wearer looks down from the centre of a “minus”, Base Down prismatic effect is induced and the image appears to shift upwards.  This is what was happening when Graham was playing, causing him to experience the focusing problems and partial double vision. 

For this reason I dispensed Graham with a pair of digital freeform lenses. Specifically for music stand distance, incorporating a prismatic element. Graham found the new lenses to be better than the previous pair. He does still have to move his head a little, but his vision is much improved and he can enjoy making music again.  

Trombonist Graham Palmer buys his specialist musicians glasses from Allegro Optical the musicians optician

The verdict

I heard from Graham a few weeks after he had received his new glasses and he said; “Simply put without Optical Allegro I would have had to stop playing. Two pairs of music glasses from a well known high street optician did not help. I was left  feeling as if the end of my playing had arrived I contacted Optical Allegro. The difference was enormous!  Nothing was too much trouble and they went that extra mile for me. Thank you Sheryl and all your staff for being so friendly, supportive and caring to both myself and my wife”. 

Why do musicians come to Allegro Optical?

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 a field. 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‘. During March Allegro Optical was awarded the  ‘Scale-Up Business of the Year‘ at the regional finals of the Federation of Small Business awards in York and 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.

The company has been featured in many national publications including The Times 4BarsRest, The British Bandsman and Music Teacher Magazine.

Are you are a musician who is struggling with their vision? Is making music is no longer the enjoyable experience it once was? If so call us at either Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090.

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Now Peter really is Mr Bass Man thanks to his specialist musicians glasses

EEb Bass Player Peter plays in Mono

It’s always nice to catch up with a musical friend and EEb Bass player Peter Minshull from Cheshire has become just that. Having visited Allegro Optical in the past and being one of our early clients purchasing a pair of specialist musicians glasses. It was lovely to see him again when he visited us for his yearly check.

During the eye examination it became apparent that Peter had had a hyperopic shift. Meaning he had become a little more long sighted. Peter had felt that his vision had changed and mentioned that reading music on his stand was becoming more problematic even with his specialist musicians glasses.

Peter is a retired Civil Engineer and since retiring has returned to music making and now plays for several ensembles including;

Winterley Methodist Brass Band

Sandbach U3A Band 

Alsager Light Orchestra

This means that no two working distances are ever the same as the rehearsal rooms and so set up differs. Because of this we had to try to give Peter as good a range of vision as possible.Alsager Light Orchestra Alsager Light Orchestra. Photo courtesy of Geoff Reader

It’s not always better in stereo

Peter who is presbyopic, also has a strong right eye dominance, the tendency to prefer visual input from one eye to the other. This is a bit of a challenge for an EEb Bass player. The large bell of the instrument partially obscures his field of view. This  means he has to read the music with his non dominant eye. This can present as his right eye was dominating his vision and his brain was processing the right image by preference. We resolved this by suppressing Peter’s dominance. Preventing the right eye from disturbing his vision of the music on the stand. 

Ocular dominance issues solved at Allegro Optical Opticians in MelthamWe dispensed a monocular solution which allowed Peter a clear view of the conductor. In his right lens we also gave him a little notation field to the bottom of the lens. While in the left we concentrated on giving the widest field at music stand distance. Both lenses are fully personalised freeform lenses, manufactured using the latest digital ray-path technology, to maximise visual performance.

Seeing the music

Peter collected his new glasses a couple of weeks later, (while his wife Keri was having her eye test). We had experimented with Peter’s problem and had dispensed a mono-vision solution. So, we all held our breaths when Peter tried them on. Would he like the new monocular solution? What if he experienced double vision? Would he lose his depth of field? These were some of the questions we asked ourselves during the dispense and production process. I know we were all thinking that when he first put them on!

Peter Minshull EEb Bass player buys his specialist musicians glasses from ALlegro Optical the musicians optician

Seeing is believing

Thankfully Peter adapted really quickly. After an initial adjustment period to his new prescription, his vision seemed to settle very quickly. All our musicians lenses come with a full guarantee, just like all varifocals. If it isn’t perfect the first time, we will change the design until it is.

Peter was back at the practice a couple of weeks later when his wife came to collect her new glasses. While there he commented on the wide field of view he has of the music on his stand. We asked him how he was getting along with his new glasses and he said; I was becoming increasingly frustrated by High Street opticians who could only offer what they called ‘work’ glasses (intermediate/long distance varifocals) which did not work for reading music and seeing the conductor clearly.  When I met Sheryl at the Blackpool area band contest it was a ‘no-brainer’. To go to an optician who not only understood the problems musicians have, but are very capable of solving these problems. My latest glasses work very well – when I first started using them it was obvious that I was using my left eye to read the music, rather than my right eye which I had previously. However, having used them for a little while now I have become accustomed to them. I now don’t notice which I eye I am using. All I notice is that the music is always in focus no matter what size of the print.

Why Allegro?

Making music requires the ability to read music, often very quickly and at many different distances. This can present a musician with real problems, particularly if their instrument obscures their visual field. As a result of this, some musicians go on to develop postural problems because of their compromised visual clarity.

As musicians ourselves we have an understanding of the playing and seating positions of professional musicians. Thanks to very knowledgeable team of optical professionals, of which many are musical. We are ideally placed to resolve these issues and many more with our unique specialist musicians lenses.  Once we have restored visual clarity and the optical disorders corrected the musicians working and playing life can easily be improved.

A family business

As an independent family run business we are gaining an international reputation for professional excellence. Our inventive approach helps us to meet customer needs. Now known internationally as the ‘Musicians Opticians’ we are attracting many clients from across Europe and further a field. 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 because they are. It is true that no two musicians are the same, so why should their vision correction be? We enjoy creating unique lenses to meet a musician’s particular needs. As musicians ourselves we can ask the right questions and interpret the answers accordingly. Dispensing specialist musicians glasses means musicians can continue to play and enjoy making the music they love.

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 Yearat a gala event in London. Managing Director Sheryl Doe was awarded the 2019Dispensing Optician of the Yearand she has been shortlisted for the AOP Dispensing Optician of the year 2020.

During March Allegro Optical was awarded theScale-Up Business of the Yearat the regional finals of the Federation of Small Business awards in York and 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 Examiners Business Awards in the Innovation and Enterprise category.

The company has been featured in many national publications including The Times 4BarsRest, The British Bandsman and Music Teacher Magazine.

Are you are a musician who is struggling with their vision? Is making music is no longer the enjoyable experience it once was? Would you benefit from a pair of Specialist musicians glasses. If so call us at either Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090.

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Double trouble for a musical duo – A couples search for specialist musicians glasses

A tale of a musical couple search for specialist musicians glasses – by Stephen Tighe

It’s not unusual forthe musician’s opticianto book an instrumentalist in for an eye test. It is less frequent that we book those appointments in pairs. However musical couples are quite a thing, our own directors are a musical pairing. So when Conductor and Tuba player Marcus Jones and his partner, Louise Crane rang to book an appointment together, the team weren’t phased.

In time, but one at a time

The couple visited our practice in Greenfield Saddleworth, with Louise being the first in the “big chair.”  Louise complained of some eye strain with her current glasses, she felt it was time to seek a new prescription. As a musician with a moderate hyperopia prescription and a high oblique astigmatism, Louise immediately presented us with a challenge. Louise also has a minor strabismus and was investigated for Brown’s Syndrome as a child. We knew that peripheral distortion was going to be a problem for Louise, so we needed to overcome this. 

Being relatively young, Louise retains a good amount of accommodation, but her near vision is quite unbalanced. For this reason, unusually, we prescribed Louise with uneven add’s. We dispensed Louise with specialist musicians glasses with lenses from our turba range, as she still has relatively low adds. We did however want to balance her vision as best we could to make playing, conducting and life in general as easy as possible. The higher add was given for her left and less accommodative eye. While we have kept the addition to a minimum for the dominant right eye. 

Ashton Riley

Louise chose two beautiful frames from the Ashton Riley range, beautiful frames designed in the UK by Brett Waugh and named after his son. These easy to wear frames feature interesting but wearable shapes, which are complemented by acetate colours with depth and detail. Louise chose the Manchester and York models providing her with two very different styles for different occasions. Both frames dress up or down and are extremely flattering to Louise’s face shape. 

Ashton Riley York from Allegro Optical Opticians Ashton Riley – York 

Ashton Riley Manchester Black Matte from Allegro Optical Opticians Ashton Riley – Manchester

When asked about her new glasses Louise, who conducts the Middleton youth band and plays soprano cornet for the main band, said; “I’m loving my musicians glasses! I was a bit skeptical at first having always had a single vision lens. But the Allegro team took the time to carefully tailor my new prescription and lenses really well. The eye strain and headaches I was experiencing have completely gone and I can now see fine print and music much more clearly, highly recommended.”

Louise Crane and Marcus Jones buy their specialist musicians glasses at Allegro Optical the musicians optician

A second sitting

Next in the chair was Marcus, current Music Director of Dove Holes Brass Band and talented Tuba player. Marcus is mildly short sighted and can see the music on his stand fairly well without his glasses. However taking specs on and off during rehearsals isn’t very practical. Like Louise we dispensed Marcus with two pairs of specialist musicians glasses. Both with Turba lenses to help with transitioning between the two working distances. 

Marcus wanted a frame that fitted well with a wide eye size. Opting for our 2-4-1 offer Marcus chose the Jaguar 33098 in both blue and charcoal.

When he collected his new glasses Marcus commented on how comfortable they were in comparison to his old tight fitting spectacles. In fact Marcus went on to say; I’d recommend Allegro Optical Ltd to all glasses wearers musicians or not, their care and understanding goes above and beyond.”  Thank you Marcus.

Why Allegro?

This case study illustrates how frustrating vision problems can be for the musician. Focusing at the many different distances can be very problematic. As was illustrated in both Louise and Marcus’s case, many musicians find they struggle with the varying focal distances required. Some musicians even suffer from postural problems, which are often caused by their deteriorating vision as they try to compensate for this reduced visual acuity.

With an understanding of the playing and seating positions of professional musicians, this can be overcome and the musicians working and playing life can easily be improved.  Many Musicians who experience vision problems are unaware that there is a solution to their vision problems and soldier on. Thanks to Allegro Optical there is no need to suffer in silence.

A family Business

As an independent family run specialist business, Allegro Optical is gaining an international reputation. Both for professional excellence and an inventive approach to meeting customer needs. Becoming known internationally as the ‘Musicians Opticians’ the team are attracting many clients from across Europe and further a field. It’s our groundbreaking work with performers, players and conductors which has resulted in Allegro Optical becoming the first and only opticians to gain registration with the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM).  

We firmly believe in treating each client as an individual and it is true that no two musicians are the same. Even if they come in pairs! On that note we ask our usual question.  Why should all musicians vision correction be the same? 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. Marcus and Louise have been delighted with their specialist musicians glasses and now recommend us to all their friends.

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 Yearat a gala event in London. Managing Director Sheryl Doe was awarded the 2019 ‘Dispensing Optician of the Year‘. During March Allegro Optical was awarded the  Scale-Up Business of the Year at the regional finals of the Federation of Small Business awards in York and 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.

The company has been featured in many national publications including The Times 4BarsRest, The British Bandsman and Music Teacher Magazine.

Are you are a musician who is struggling with their vision? Is making music is no longer the enjoyable experience it once was? If so call us at either Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090.

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Christmas fashion and style in Greenfield, Saddleworth and Meltham, Holmfirth

Christmas fashion and style in Meltham and Saddleworth

The big day is nearly here and you’re invited to an evening of Christmas fashion and style in Meltham and Saddleworth. Are you a last minute Christmas shopper, trying to get something for everyone a week before the big day? Or, have you not only bought, but actually wrapped most of your presents already? Either way you can’t deny that the festive season is nearly upon us. 

Does the office party or Christmas Jumper Day fill you with dread? Do you worry about what to wear to the charity gala dinner? If so help is at hand as Allegro Optical calls in the experts at two evenings of festive fun and sparkle. 

Find your fashion

Following on from our successful colour and style event in July we are hosting two evenings of seasonal fashion and style tips. Coco Chanel famously said “Fashion changes, but style endures” and that is what the evenings are all about.

The purpose of our event is to engage in an evening of discussion about the importance of self-confidence through good styling. Fashion wouldn’t exist without style. Many of us don’t feel empowered enough to wear the styles of clothing that appeal to us the most. At Allegro Optical we want to encourage everyone to be bold enough to celebrate their own style and unapologetically express themselves.

A word from the experts

Guest speakers will use style, embellishment, and festivities as a topic to lead discussions about how to stay confident, motivated, inspired and most of all to love ourselves. The fashion industry doesn’t discuss this enough, so we aim to encourage and empower our audience and have them leave inspired or having inspired others. We talk about how colour and shape can flatter or flounder and how it can help your personality sparkle this festive season.

The evenings begin with a drinks and nibbles reception and you will have the opportunity to talk to all the speakers. 

Sparkle event ALlegro Optical at Scona 14th November 2019The first event is taking place on Thursday 14th November at Scona in Greenfield at 7:30 

Sparkle event Allegro Optical at 20th November 2019The second on Wednesday 20th November at Allegro Optical in Meltham.

If you would like to join us for an evening of sparkle and style in Greenfield register here or call 01457 353100 or for Meltham click here or call 01484 907090