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Optometrist Amy’s BAPAM registration is instrumental in helping musicians to see the music

Allegro Optical Bapam practitioner

As a BAPAM accredited practitioner, Amy is helping musicians to see the music

We are delighted to share with you the fantastic news that Optometrist Amy Ogden is now a registered practitioner with the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM). BAPAM is an umbrella organisation for performing arts medicine, which was established at the Royal Free Hospital in London in 1984 by the late Ian James, a consultant pharmacologist with a particular interest in musician’s health and well being. The research trust which Ian James founded grew into what is now the charity BAPAM. In turn, this has grown to serve all performers including musicians, actors and dancers. We have also extended its range of services.

Allegro Optical became the first Optician in the country to gain BAPAM registration in August 2018 and we are overjoyed that Amy has succeeded in gaining her accreditation. Being both a flautist and an optometrist Amy has an avid interest in the eye, vision and music. In particular how eye disorders and disease affect a musicians ability to play and perform.

                                        Amy Ogden

Saddleworth optometrist Bapam registered practitioner for musicians eye test

Amy started in her role of Optometrist with Allegro Optical in November and here she has shared an overview of her role with us below. “My role at Allegro is extremely varied, which is one of the reasons why I adore working here. As an Optometrist, in my daily role, I carry out refractions ( checking the prescription). In addition, I  check eye health using a range of techniques. Using procedures from volk, direct ophthalmoscopy, fundus photography. I also use our 3D OCT scanning and visual field screener to check peripheral vision. I also carry out colourimetry and overlay assessments to help those who suffer from visual stress. Working with Sheryl opened up a whole new role for me. Especially as I have been able to combine my love of music and my passion for optometry”.

Vision and music-making

“I have seen first hand how musicians begin to struggle when they hit the presbyopic stage of their lives ( the stage when they begin to need spectacle corrections for reading). It can have dramatic effects on their sound quality. Especially as they tilt their head to see the music- affecting their airways. This can lead to missed notes due to poor vision.  Many struggle to see the conductor or fellow players due to wearing a near correction. I wanted to help find a solution to this. To be able to provide one pair of glasses for a musician, so they are able to see all the required distances. Working with Sheryl has allowed me to help play a vital part in this process. We have been successfully helping musicians to see the music together since I started as a resident Optometrist here in November. 

“Gaining registration with BAPAM is so important to me. It enables musicians to find us easier, and be aware there is a solution to their problem. I am so excited to see what the future holds for us at Allegro and to see how many other musicians we can help”.

A Specialist Musician’s Optician

At Allegro Optical we provide consultations at our practices in Greenfield, Saddleworth and Meltham, Holmfirth. We also offer a peripatetic service which can visit all the major musical institutions.  We can provide onsite optical solutions to all ensemble members. As musicians ourselves, we’re able to ask the right questions. We can also interpret the answers to create a truly unique pair of lenses. Using our combined optical and musical skills we are able to address and resolve the many visual problems encountered by musicians and performers.

Allegro Optical specialises in all aspects of a musician’s vision correction. We aim to return and enhance musicians playing pleasure and performance experience.  The team has over 150 combined years’ experience in the optics and entertainment industry. Whether you want advice or a practical solution call Allegro Optical in Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090 or visit https://www.allegrooptical.co.uk/

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A bit of a coincidence, all strings considered.

Coincidences do happen

Life is full of coincidences but can you imagine my surprise when I answered a phone call from a fellow cellist who shared not only a love of my favourite instrument but also my name and star sign. Following an internet search Cellist, Cheryl Hale contacted Allegro Optical in December 2019. She was experiencing problems seeing the music on her stand. Especially chords, accidentals and divisi parts, particularly in the case of older music and orchestral parts. As a cellist myself I understand entirely Cheryl’s frustrations. In situations such as this seeing the music becomes more of a challenge than actually playing it.

Music teacher Cheryl, who also plays the Harp, Piano and Recorder, travelled from Hertfordshire for her consultation bringing her fabulous instrument with her. Following a detailed eye examination with Optometrist (and flautist) Amy Ogden it was found that Cheryl needed a good prescription range as she plays at multiple distances. Cheryl needs a myopic correction, but the effects of presbyopia were causing problems at the nearer distances. As she explained on the phone varifocals failed to correct Cheryl’s vision at music stand distance. Especially as the stand is offset to one side. This means Cheryl is unable to look through the correct part of her varifocal to see the music clearly when playing.

Cellist Cheryl Hale buys her specialist Musicians glasses from Allegro Optical the musician's optician in Saddleworth and Meltham

A feast forza eyes

Following Cheryl’s consultation with Amy, I joined them to design a lens which would allow Cheryl to view her music clearly from the side. First Cheryl chose her frame. She settled on the rimless silhouette 5226 frame with a pretty feminine shape to compliment her facial features. The frame is perfect as being rimless it allows her to see the neck and fingerboard of the Cello unencumbered. It also provides a wide enough field to see her sheet music on the stand. I dispensed our new wider field Fogotto PL lenses but added an anamorphic component to the lens design to widen her field of view further. The term anamorphic means ”formed again” and is of Greek origin. This anamorphic component enables us to expand Cheryl’s lateral vision.

We also incorporated some prism into the lenses to help with fixation and fatigue. This is especially useful when playing for long periods of time. Cheryl’s lenses are manufactured from a 1.6 high index optical resin. The resin provides durability with minimal weight as she often plays for hours at a time. The last thing Cheryl needs is a heavy pair of spectacles weighing on her nose. 

Once fitted with her new glasses, a few weeks later Cheryl was utterly amazed by the clarity her new lenses provided. “Absolutely amazing!!!” She said; “I can’t believe the difference with your lenses. Everything is so clear and large. I really can see every single note. Thank you so much.”

Cellist Cheryl Hale buys her specialist Musicians glasses from Allegro Optical the musician's optician in Saddleworth and Meltham

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 ‘Musician’s 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 because they are. It is true that no two musicians are the same, so why should their vision correction be? We enjoy creating unique lenses to meet a musician’s particular needs. As musicians ourselves we can ask the right questions and interpret the answers accordingly.

Award-winning eye-care

We’ve been pretty successful in helping performers to #SeeTheMusic. In fact, in the last twelve months alone we have scooped no less than five national and regional awards for our work in this field. 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

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

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

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Allegro Optical Opticians, Helping Charlotte See The Music Remotely

Allegro Optical Opticians in Meltham are now helping musicians see the music remotely

Charlotte Reynolds is a Cellist who lives in Oakhampton in Devon. She contacted us through our website after she purchased a pair of “glasses for music” from her optician. She told us that she had an increasing problem being able to focus on and read music. Particularly in the case of fast and densely written parts. Charlotte plays both chamber music and symphonic. She wondered if there was any way we could help her. Either by recommending an optician nearer to her home who also specialises in optical solutions for musicians. Or if not, maybe we could help, via long distance.

She explained that she had been dispensed with a pair of bifocal spectacles from her opticians. These were intended to provide a focus for her music stand distance and the conductor but she found it was still blurry and not clearly focused.

We explained that we didn’t know of any other musician’s specialist opticians in the UK. From that point, a dialogue began between us to find a solution that could be dispensed over the internet.

The perfect solution for seeing the music

After a few e-mails were exchanged, including some selfies and after measuring Charlotte’s working distances, we found a solution. We also went through facial and frame measurements by way of selfies, to ensure that the new glasses would be perfect.

 

Our solution was to dispense our performer’s lenses, with a compensated prescription to allow Charlotte to see the music on the stand clearly. But still maintaining a crisp view of the conductor. We left a small area of near vision to allow her to notate her manuscript if needed.

When the glasses had been made up and we were satisfied with the prescription and the quality of the job we posted them to Charlotte. We contacted her with the tracking number for the parcel and she received them the next day. Charlotte said “My new glasses arrived safely and so far so good – I’m really pleased with them – everything is really clear and crisp. I was slightly nervous about having specialist glasses prescribed remotely but the whole process was very thorough from your end and easy from mine and the results are superb. Excellent – thank you”

Why do musicians struggle to see the music

Due to changes in the structure of the crystalline lens and stiffening of the ocular muscles many musicians experience focusing problems later on in their careers.  Many struggle to focus on all the different distances required of their profession and are unaware that there is a solution to the problem. Many optometrists or opticians suggest either varifocals, which often exacerbate the problems due to the narrow corridor. Or they recommend bifocals or occupational lenses neither of which are very satisfactory.

How can Allegro Optical help?

At Allegro Optical Opticians we understand the many visual requirements placed on musicians. As a result we prescribe a selection of lenses designed and dispensed specifically to suit their needs. Creating a solution especially for the client, providing a perfect optical solution. We understand the variety of dispensing challenges that practitioners may face when a musician presents in practice, but as musicians ourselves we are able to meet their individual needs perfectly.

If you are a musician who has problems seeing the music give us a call at Allegro Optical Opticians on 01484 907090 for advice or to book a consultation.

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Cello good.

 

Fiona Mayo BA(Hons) Dip Mus, LRSM, LTCL, is a Cellist and Cello teacher. Like many mature musicians, she was struggling with the effects of presbyopia. Sight reading was a problem as was focusing on the music on the stand. She was also having problems seeing the music when teaching, as she uses a shared music stand.

A problem with sight reading

A long term varifocal wearer Fiona was experiencing difficulty with the narrow corridor and peripheral distortion provided by the spectacles her optician provided. Fiona needed to be able to see the conductor from as near as a few feet (when leading a cello section), to as far as the furthest distance on a concert stage(when providing playing support from the last desk of cellists in a big symphony orchestra).

She was finding particular difficulty when teaching, as music teachers often position the music stand in front of their pupils and then read the piece being played from the side. Although Fiona’s current lenses were a free form design this had become problematic, due to the narrower field of view provided by the lens corridor.

Seeing the music

We dispensed a pair of spectacles adapted to take into account Fiona’s  various working distances and seating positions. Having collected and used the new spectacles Fiona said: “I have been wearing my new spectacles since I got them”.  “I have worn them for:

  • Cutting tiny wedges to fit mortices in the re-hairing of cello bows
  • Teaching, from a single music stand, as well as sideways on from a stand placed in front of the pupil.
  • Reading piano music to accompany pupils.
  • Attending a String Quartet concert at Leeds College of Music and being able to see clearly.

The biggest surprise is that I no longer have to take the specs off for close work. It’s all looking fantastic. Thanks again for helping me and  the service has been exceptional.”

Harrogate philharmonic orchestra

Summary

Focusing at many different distances can pose real problems to musicians. Many struggle with the varying focal distances they work with. In fact, many musicians also suffer from postural problems as a result. With an understanding of the playing and seating positions of professional musicians, this problem can be overcome. The musicians working and playing life can easily be extended, due to the improvement that this solution provides. Many Musicians who experience focusing problems at different distances are unaware that there is a solution to the problem. Many optometrists and opticians either prescribe and dispense single vision lenses for the music stand or varifocals, which often exacerbate the problems due to the narrow corridor.

Conclusion

This case study has illustrated the variety of dispensing challenges that practitioners may face when a musician presents in practice and the individual.