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#SeeTheMusic and More – Glaucoma, the silent thief of sight

Eye conditions and the performing arts professional

Being the only performing arts eye care specialist in the UK as well as the only optician registered with BAPAM , we fully understand how issues with the eyes can negatively affect a performer’s career.

Musicians, dancers, singers, presenters, camera operators, sound engineers, and video technicians have all benefited from our assistance.

We all may experience vision problems at some point in our lives. Most of these problems are caused by refractive errors, which affect the way the eyes focus light, rather than an underlying condition or illness. Nevertheless, eye conditions affect many people. The purpose of this blog series is to examine common eye disorders experienced by performing arts professionals.

Glaucoma – What exactly is it?

The term “glaucoma” refers to a group of diseases that affect the optic nerve, which connects the retina to the brain, resulting in a loss of peripheral vision. Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) is the most common form of glaucoma.

Of the multiple types of glaucoma, the two main types are open-angle and angle-closure glaucoma.

Variants of open-angle and angle-closure glaucoma include:

  • Secondary Glaucoma.
  • Pigmentary Glaucoma.
  • Pseudoexfoliative Glaucoma.
  • Traumatic Glaucoma.
  • Neovascular Glaucoma.
  • IridoCorneal Endothelial Syndrome (ICE)
  • Uveitic Glaucoma.

As glaucoma is asymptomatic, but causes irreversible vision loss, it has been referred to as the “silent thief of sight.”. According to the World Health Organisation, it’s a leading cause of irreversible blindness (World Health Organisation, 2010). (Bunce et al., 2010) cites it as the second most common cause of visual impairment registration in England and Wales. Glaucoma is an umbrella term for a large group of disorders with a wide variety of clinical and pathological characteristics. The common characteristics are: 

  • Optic nerve damage
  • Visual field loss

The disease is a silent progressive disease and, if detected and treated early, is preventable and can lead to significant visual impairment or blindness. Diagnosis is crucial, and adherence to treatment is essential to prevent vision loss.

Glaucoma accounts for the majority of the workload (1 million visits per year) in  UK eye clinics. About 2% of people over 40  years of age and nearly 10% of people over  75 have primary (chronic) open-angle glaucoma (POAG). Only about half are diagnosed (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, 2009). The social and economic burden of glaucoma-related vision loss and  workload is likely to increase due to longer life expectancy (Coleman and Miglior, 2008; Burr et al., 2007). Because glaucoma patients may  have no symptoms until they have lost their vision, then the loss of vision is irreversible. Once vision loss is apparent, 90% of the fibres of the optic nerve  may be irreparably damaged (NICE, 2009). Treatment slows progression by lowering intraocular pressure (IOP).

Consequences of glaucoma for the performer

Damage to nerve cells in the retina leads to damage to the visual field. Peripheral fields are usually damaged first. Loss of peripheral vision may go unnoticed until it reaches a significant level, due to the small role that peripheral vision plays in the overlapping vision of our eyes and in perceiving what most people can see. Deterioration usually progresses slowly over the years, although some types of secondary open-angle glaucoma can progress faster.

Performers, particularly musicians who play larger instruments such as pianos, organs and large percussion use their peripheral vision more than most. As a result the symptoms of peripheral vision loss may well be detected sooner. 

Some instrumentalists however may be at an increased risk of the condition. Recent studies suggest that musicians playing high-impedance wind instruments may be susceptible to glaucoma. This could be because the Valsalva manoeuvre is generated when blowing into a high impedance wind instrument. The Valsalva manoeuvre has been reported to cause high intraocular pressure (IOP). 

High and low resistance wind musicians experience a temporary increase in intraocular pressure while playing their instrument. The magnitude of the IOP increase is greater for high resistance players than for low resistance players. High-resistance wind musicians have a lower incidence of visual field loss than other musicians but IOPS are significantly higher, which is associated with lifetime playing time. The cumulative effects of long-term intermittent elevated IOP while playing high-resistance wind instruments could cause cell damage and possibly lead to an increased risk of developing glaucoma.

How do we check to see if you are at risk of glaucoma?

Tonometry

Our optometrists perform a number of different tests to look for glaucoma. We use a device called a tonometer to measure the pressure inside your eye. Our optometrist will put a small amount of anaesthetic and dye into the front of your eye. They will then shine a light into your eye and then use a tonometer to measure the pressure in your eye. Some optometrists use a different instrument that uses a puff of air called a non contact tonometer which does not touch the eye to check the pressure.

A visual field test determines whether any portions of vision are missing. It’s possible that you’ll be shown a series of light dots and asked to press a button to indicate which ones you saw. Some little dots may appear at the periphery of your vision (peripheral vision), which is generally the first area of glaucoma to be impacted. If you can’t see the spots you may be at risk of glaucoma.

Evaluation of the optic nerve 

Because the optic nerve, which connects your eye to your brain, can be damaged in glaucoma, an examination may be performed to determine its health.

Slit Lamp Exam

Eye Drops will be used to dilate your pupils for the test. Your eyes are then examined using a slit lamp (a microscope with a bright light) Slit-lamp examination of the optic nerve magnifies the view with hand-held lenses, allowing for greater control over the examination. This technique produces a stereoscopic, inverted image of the optic nerve.

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) tests create a topographical map of the optic nerve by taking cross-section pictures of the retina with non-invasive light waves. The thickness of the nerve fibre layer, which is the portion of the optic nerve most vulnerable to eye pressure elevation, is measured by an OCT test.

Referral to a specialist

If signs of glaucoma are detected during any of the tests, you will be referred to an ophthalmologist for further investigation. If you do have glaucoma the ophthalmologist will confirm your diagnosis and find out:

  • how far the condition has progressed
  • how much damage has been done to your eyes
  • what may have caused the condition

The ophthalmologist will be able to advise on treatment. 

In some cases, your ophthalmologist will continue to treat you. But for less serious types of glaucoma, you may be referred back to the opticians.

Treatment

There are a few courses of action to treat glaucoma, including eye drops, laser treatment and surgery. The best treatment for you will depend upon your condition.

Eye Drops

Treatment can’t reverse any vision loss but it starts with eye drops. These can help reduce IOP by improving drainage from your eye or by reducing how much fluid your eye makes. Depending  how low your eye pressure should be, more than one type of the eyedrops may be recommended.

Laser Treatment

Laser treatment might be suggested in the event that eye drops don’t work.

This is where a high-energy light is focused on part of your eye to stop or reduce fluid build up.

Sorts of laser treatment include:

laser trabeculoplasty

a laser is used to open up the vessels inside the eye,  to allow more fluid  to empty out and reduce the tension inside

cyclodiode laser treatment

a laser is utilised to remove a small amount of eye tissue that delivers the fluid, which can then decrease pressure in the eye

laser iridotomy

a laser is used to make openings in the iris to permit liquid to escape from your eye.

Surgery

In situations where eyedrops or laser treatments haven’t been successful surgery may be offered.

The most well-known sort of a medical procedure for glaucoma is called trabeculectomy. It includes removing part of the eye’s drainage mechanisms to permit more liquid to escape without any problem.

There are other glaucoma surgical options, including:

trabeculotomy — similar to a trabeculectomy, other than a tiny segment of the eye-drainage vessels are removed using an electric current.

A segment of the white outer covering of the eyeball (the sclera) is removed to allow fluid to drain more easily from the eye.

Deep sclerectomy — the drainage channels in the eye are enlarged, sometimes with the insertion of a small device.

trabecular stent bypass – a small catheter is inserted into your eye to improve fluid outflow.

Conclusion

Patients with chronic conditions, such as glaucoma, should work with their optometrist and other eye care professionals. Preventing irreversible and severe vision loss necessitates early detection and screening.

Getting regular eye exams is now the easiest approach to avoid major glaucoma damage.

Most people can keep their vision with early identification and meticulous, lifetime treatment. In general, a glaucoma check should be performed:

  • under age 40, every two years
  • from age 40 to age 64, every 12 months
  • after age 65, every six to 12 months

A screening should be done every year or two in those with high risk factors after 35. In addition to people of African descent and people with diabetes, those with a family history of glaucoma and wind instrumentalists have an elevated risk of getting glaucoma. If you have a parent or sibling with glaucoma, you are at higher risk.

Benefits of Exercise

A moderate exercise program is beneficial to your overall health, and studies have shown that moderate exercise, such as jogging or walking, three or more times a week, can lower IOP.

You can only reap the benefits of exercise for as long as you continue to exercise; this is why moderate exercise on a regular basis is recommended. The practice of yoga can be beneficial, but it’s important to avoid inverting positions, such as headstands and shoulder stands, as these can increase IOP.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding an exercise program, you should speak with your doctor.

Keep Your Eyes Protected

While participating in sports or doing home improvement projects, it is important to wear protective eyewear.

Protecting your eyes from injury is another way to prevent glaucoma. Traumatic glaucoma and secondary glaucoma are both caused by injury to the eyes.

The best defence against glaucoma and other eye diseases is a regular comprehensive eye exam.

In Summary

The optometrists at Allegro Optical have the technology, facilities, including our fantastic 3D OCT eye scanners, and experience to determine if your eye flashers are serious. Early detection and treatment are critical for preserving your vision, eye health, and performing arts career.

As the UK’s only specialist Performing Arts eye care provider we understand more than most just how much dry eye conditions can impact a performer’s career and everyday life. 

Our optical specialists understand the demands of professional musicians and performing arts professionals. Working in collaboration with our dispensing opticians and optometrists, we are able to assist musicians. It is surprising how many musicians are unaware of the many solutions available to them. 

With the precision of our performing arts eye exams, the expertise of our optometrists and dispensing opticians using cutting edge diagnostic equipment and dispensing procedures our unique approach can help to resolve performing arts practitioners’ vision problems. 

If you are suffering from any of the symptoms mentioned above or have any of the symptoms described then please speak to one of our staff.  To book an appointment or find out more about our exclusive dry eye programme, Call us today and speak to a member of our team. 

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

Categories
Music

#SeeTheMusic and More -Floaters and Flashes, what are they and should you worry?

Eye conditions and the performing arts professional

Because we are the only performing arts eye care specialist in the UK and the only optician registered with BAPAM, we understand how eye conditions can negatively impact a performer’s career.

Performing arts professionals, such as musicians, dancers, singers, presenters, camera operators, sound engineers, and video technicians, have all benefited from our assistance to see the music.

We are all likely to encounter vision problems at some point in our lives. Most of these problems are caused by refractive errors, which affect the way the eyes focus light, rather than a condition or illness affecting the eye. Even so, many of us could be affected by eye conditions. In this series of blogs, we examine common eye conditions experienced by performing arts professionals.

Floaters – What are they?

In today’s blog we are looking at two common vision complaints, Floaters. When performing on stage under bright lights, floaters and flashes can be especially bothersome. Many of our clients comment that they see floaters, but what exactly is a floater? 

A “floater” is a small spot in your vision that is caused by tiny particles of collagen or protein that form in the jelly-like substance in the centre of the eye. When the jelly-like substance in the eyeball (known as the vitreous gel) changes, shrinks, or becomes more liquid, it causes eye flashes and floaters. The optometrist may sometimes refer to this as posterior vitreous detachment, and it is a regular occurrence as we become older (PVD).

When we see a floater, we are actually seeing the shadow cast on the retina, not the floater itself. As the vitreous diminishes, the gel-like substance becomes stringy, casting shadows on the retina and causing floaters to appear in our field of vision. The retina is a thin layer located at the back of the eye. This layer converts light energy into electrical signals, which are then transmitted to your brain and processed to produce the images we see (our vision).

Floaters come in a variety of shapes and sizes: some are light, others are dark, some are chunky, and still others are stringy. When we try to look at them directly, they appear to dart away from our field of vision. Floaters are more visible when viewed against a bright plain background and on their own are rarely something to worry about. Floaters are much more common than flashes. 

Floaters are common and, in most cases, pose little risk to our vision or eyesight. They usually do not require treatment, but they might occasionally be a symptom of retinal detachment, which is a more serious problem that necessitates medical attention. When the vitreous, which is shrinking, drags on the retina, drawing it away from the back of the eye and effectively tearing it, retinal detachment occurs. Because retinal detachment can permanently damage your vision, it is best to have your eyes checked as soon as possible rather than ignoring the problem and risking vision impairment.

Blurred vision, pain in your eye, a sudden increase in floaters or flashes, the sudden appearance of floaters or flashes, a decline in your central vision, or shading of vision are all signs of a more serious problem.

Why the flashes?

Flashing lights or lightning streaks may appear when the vitreous gel in our eyes pulls on the retina. After being hit in the eye or on the head, many people describe this sensation as seeing “stars.” These light flashes can happen on and off for weeks or months.

Eye flashes appear in our field of vision as dots or pinpricks of light. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, some of which are wavy, others jagged, and still others which resemble shooting stars.

It is common to see brief flashes of light, and in many cases, there is no cause for alarm. We recommend that anyone experiencing frequent, persistent, or increasing occurrences of eye flashers see an optometrist as soon as possible.

Flashes can occur as a result of the following conditions:

  • Ageing – Causes the vitreous to shrink or change, resulting in flashes of light. The likelihood of seeing light flashes increases with age.
  • Pressure on the retina – Rubbing your eyes too hard or being struck in the eye can cause the vitreous to bump the retina, resulting in eye flashers.
  • Migraine – A migraine can cause vision problems. As part of a migraine, you may experience glinting lights, dots, sparkles, and flashes of light.

Is it a Serious Issue to Have Eye Flashes?

Given how important our vision is to us, it’s natural for us to wonder if our vision is in danger when we see a flash of light in our eye. While many cases of eye flashes are considered normal, they can also be the result of a serious retinal condition.

Tear or Detachment of the Retina

In rare cases, the vitreous can pull the retina so hard that it tears, causing it to peel from its position at the back of the eye. Flashers can be caused by a torn or detached retina.

The sudden onset of new eye flashers, persistent flashers, a floater shower, and flashes of light accompanied by blurry vision are all indications that an optometrist should be seen as soon as possible. To avoid blindness or partial vision loss, retinal surgery or other interventions may be required.

In Summary

The optometrists at Allegro Optical have the technology, facilities, including our fantastic 3D OCT eye scanners, and experience to determine if your eye flashers are serious. Early detection and treatment are critical for preserving your vision, eye health, and performing arts career.

As the UK’s only specialist Performing Arts eye care provider we understand more than most just how much dry eye conditions can impact a performer’s career and everyday life. 

Our optical specialists understand the demands of professional musicians and performing arts professionals. Working in collaboration with our dispensing opticians and optometrists, we are able to assist musicians. It is surprising how many musicians are unaware of the many solutions available to them. 

With the precision of our performing arts eye exams, the expertise of our optometrists and dispensing opticians using cutting edge diagnostic equipment and dispensing procedures our unique approach can help to resolve performing arts practitioners’ vision problems. 

If you are suffering from any of the symptoms mentioned above or have any of the symptoms described then please speak to one of our staff.  To book an appointment or find out more about our exclusive dry eye programme, Call us today and speak to a member of our team. 

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

Categories
Music

#SeeTheMusic and More – Dry eye, it’s a blinking nuisance

Dry eye disorders and the performing arts professional

Being the UK’s only performing arts eye care specialists and the only optician registered with the British Association For Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM), we understand first-hand how eye disorders can negatively impact a career. 

Artists such as musicians, dancers, singers, presenters and technicians, including camera operators, sound engineers and Audio-visual technicians, are just some of the performing arts professionals we have assisted to see the music.

Almost all of us will experience vision problems at some point in our lives. Refractive errors are responsible for most of these problems, which means they affect the way the eyes focus light, rather than an eye disease or disorder. Nonetheless, many of us could be affected by eye disorders or diseases. In this blog series, we examine common eye conditions experienced by performing arts professionals. 

Here are the five most common eye disorders and diseases:

  • Cataracts are a widely occurring eye problem and usually affect people over the age of 65. Most have a visually impairing cataract in one or both eyes. Cataracts are usually seen as the formation of a dense, cloudy area in the lens of the eye. When this happens, light is simply unable to pass through to the retina and the victim is unable to clearly see objects in front of them.

  • Dry eye disease is a common condition that occurs when your tears aren’t able to provide adequate lubrication for your eyes. Some people may experience subtle, but constant, eye irritation to significant inflammation and even scarring of the front surface of the eye. 

In different parts of the world, dry eye syndrome affects anywhere from 5% to 50% of the population. Contact lens wearers are particularly susceptible to the condition. The condition is also common in the elderly.

  • Glaucoma causes damage to the eye’s optic nerve.  In most cases, this is due to fluid buildup and increased internal pressure. This interferes with the transmission of images from the optic nerve to the brain. If the buildup of pressure continues without treatment, it may lead to permanent loss of vision. 

Glaucoma progresses relatively quickly and can cause blindness within a few years. The most common symptoms of glaucoma include tunnel vision, peripheral vision loss, blurry eyes, halos around the eyes, and redness of the eyes.

  • Macular degeneration (AMD) is a condition affecting the central part of your view. It typically affects people in their 50s and 60s. The condition does not cause total blindness. Nevertheless, it can make everyday tasks difficult, such as reading and recognising faces.

Your vision may deteriorate without treatment. AMD can develop slowly over several years (“dry AMD”) or rapidly over a few weeks or months (“wet AMD”).

The exact cause of AMD is unknown. The risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, being overweight, and having a family history of AMD.

  • Retinal Detachment is precisely what it sounds like. It is the detachment of the retina from its place within the eye. There may be small tears in the retina before the whole retina is detached. If it is left untreated, complete vision loss can occur in the affected eye. It sounds painful, but people rarely feel any pain during retinal detachment.

There are various warning signs that a retinal detachment may occur. These include blurred vision, a sudden appearance of light flashes, and a curtain-like shadow in one’s field of vision.

Dry Eye Disease: An overview

It will never be possible to completely cure Dry Eye, however, we can easily manage and its symptoms are treated and alleviated with a tailored treatment program.

What is Dry Eye?

Dry eyes are caused by either not producing enough tears or tears that are of poor quality or that evaporate far too quickly.  Tears are normally made to keep the surface of the eye moist and lubricated, so a lack of tears or a reduction in the quality can result in gritty, burning sensations in the eyes and also cause vision problems.

Symptoms of Dry Eye

The symptoms of Dry Eye may include:

  • Dryness
  • Burning, stinging or itching
  • Gritty feeling
  • Irritation from wind or smoke
  • Blurred or smeared vision
  • Tired eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Excessive watering
  • Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
  • Contact lens discomfort

Causes of Dry Eye?

  • Ageing
  • Allergies
  • Blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids)
  • Dry environment and pollution
  • Computer use
  • Visual concentration,
  • Contact Lens wear
  • Hormonal changes, especially in women e.g. menopause
  • Dry Eye may also be symptomatic of general health problems or disease e.g. people with arthritis are more prone to Dry Eye (Sjogren’s Syndrome = arthritis + dry eye + dry mouth)
  • LASIK surgery
  • Preservatives
  • Certain types of medication – your optometrist or GP can advise you of any known links between medicine and Dry Eye.

Performing Arts Professionals and Dry Eye  Disorders

After a rehearsal or a concert, do your eyes become tired and irritated? After playing and reading the music for a while, does it start to look blurry? These are symptoms of dry eye. Having spoken to our clients and measuring their blink rate we have found that about  1/3 of them suffer from varying degrees of dry eye symptoms.

The bright stage lights and dry air found in most rehearsal rooms and orchestra pits, along with the almost constant staring at sheet music adds to the risk of developing dry eyes. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to ease its symptoms.

In most cases, dry eyes occur when your eyes do not make enough tears to keep them moist and to wash away dust. Environmental factors also contribute to dry eyes. Performing Arts and media production environments may contribute dry eyes.

Am I at risk of Dry Eyes?

Almost everyone suffers from dry eyes at least once or twice due to allergies, low humidity, or windy weather. Dry eyes are more likely to affect people with certain health conditions, such as autoimmune diseases.

Dry eyes may be caused by an underlying health condition such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or rosacea.

A dry eye disorder occurs when tear production is too little or when tears evaporate too quickly. In either case, there is not enough fluid in the tears. When tears are insufficient, the surface of the eye can become dry. The tears will also become saltier. This leads to inflammation, discomfort and blurred vision.

As a result of chronic dry eye disease, ocular tissues can become damaged and in severe cases, scarring can appear on the cornea, the clear dome of tissue that covers the front part of the eye. When the damage is severe, it can cause blurry vision or even blindness. It is not uncommon for dry eye disease to affect a person’s quality of life significantly. The effect of chronic, mild or moderate dry eye disease on quality of life can be as significant as breaking a hip due to pain and physical limitations, according to one study in the United Kingdom.

How to look after your dry eyes

The optician will probably start your dry eye care with advice to reduce environmental dryness and shake up your daily routine. The first line of care recommendations might include these tips:

  • Avoid air blowing in or across your eyes: Air conditioners and heaters contribute to dry eye disease. Point fans away from your eyes when inside or driving. In windy weather, wear protective eyewear such as sunglasses. Try using an eye mask or humidifier if you have a heater or fan running during the night while you sleep. Ceiling fans are notorious for drying out your eyes!
  • Blink more often or take an eye break: Our blink rate is lower when we read, play a piece of sheet music, look at a computer screen, or use our smartphones. When performing tasks that require more visual concentration, blink more often or close your eyes for a few minutes periodically.
  • Use artificial tears: Lubrication plays an important role in the treatment of dry eye disease. Preservative-free artificial tears are recommended. Essentially, this is due to the fact that preservatives used to stop bacteria from growing over time can damage the surface of the eye, causing further irritation and redness. A wide variety of pharmacies and supermarkets sell artificial tears that are free of preservatives. Infections can be prevented by purchasing individual vials. The key to artificial tear use is preventing the eyes from feeling dry in the first place, not after they begin to feel dry.
  • Try an eye gel or ointment: Longer-lasting lubrication might be provided by these thicker tears. Because the thickness can blur your vision for 15 minutes or more, you might consider putting them in before bed. If you don’t close your eyes completely during sleep, using gel overnight helps protect your eyes.
  • Use a warm compress:  Warm face cloths and eye masks can help clear blocked oil glands. Apply them for five to ten minutes twice a day. It can be relaxing to do this regularly to maintain your eye health.
  • Lid scrubs: It is important to keep the eyelid area clean in order to help keep the glands healthy. Several pharmacies and supermarkets sell lid scrubs that can be used to remove debris. You should scrub your lids every day and use warm compresses to increase oil production and keep your glands healthy. 

Advanced dry eye therapies

If self-care therapies don’t effectively treat your symptoms, your optician or optometrist might suggest more advanced, nonsurgical treatments, such as:

  • Medication adjustment: There are certain drugs that can worsen dry eye symptoms, including antihistamines, antidepressants, birth control pills, and blood pressure medications. Talk to your GP or pharmacist to find an alternative. Be sure to discuss all medications you are taking with your doctor and continue taking them as prescribed until your doctor recommends a change.
  • Prescription eye drops: Prescription eye drops help increase tear production and reduce inflammation in the eyes if the over-the-counter artificial tears aren’t enough. Ask your GP about a prescription for Hylo Forte if you have a persistent problem
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS): The discomfort caused by dry eyes can be relieved with over-the-counter NSAIDs.
  • Steroid eye drops: It is possible to need steroid eye drops for short periods of time when dry eye disease triggers inflammation. Due to potential side effects, these drops should only be used for a short period of time in order to reduce inflammation.

What if none of that works?

For cases of severe dry eyes we can refer to specialists who may recommend one of the following therapies;

  • Specialty contact lenses: The surface of the eye can be protected by certain types of contact lenses. They ensure that the cornea remains hydrated and promote healing. Contact lenses called scleral lenses can be helpful for patients with severe dry eye disease.
  • Eyelid thermal pulsation technology: It may be possible to receive an out-patient procedure if you suffer from meibomian gland dysfunction. A device is placed over the eyelids and heat is applied to soften the hardened oil-like substance. In addition, pulsed pressure is used to open and express the clogged glands. The glands can produce healthy oils once the hardened substance has been removed from the glands, preventing tears from evaporating. This procedure takes about 12 minutes.
  • Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy: This procedure can be performed as an outpatient procedure for patients with rosacea and meibomian gland dysfunction. The small blood vessels that supply the glands in the eyelids can be treated using a cool laser. Consequently, the inflammation of the eyelids and ocular surface is reduced and healthy lipids that prevent tear evaporation are produced.

In Summary

As the UK’s only specialist Performing Arts eye care provider we understand more than most just how much dry eye conditions can impact a performer’s career and everyday life. 

Our optical specialists understand the demands of professional musicians and performing arts professionals. Working in collaboration with our dispensing opticians and optometrists, we are able to assist musicians. It is surprising how many musicians are unaware of the many solutions available to them. 

With the precision of our performing arts eye exams, the expertise of our optometrists and dispensing opticians using cutting edge diagnostic equipment and dispensing procedures our unique approach can help to resolve performing arts practitioners’ vision problems. To help in the treatment of dry eye we have developed a Dry Eye Treatment Programme. This is a management program consisting of:

  • Initial 30 minute consultation with a dry eye specialist Optometrist, followed by reviews within the first 3 month period as necessary
  • Up to 3 appointments with an Optometrist and/or Dispensing Optician throughout the year
  • Preferential discounts of products to manage your condition
  • All this for just £4.99 per month
  • Treatment may consist of:
  • Ocular lubricants
  • Heat treatment
  • Lid massage
  • Lid hygiene
  • Supplements

If you are suffering from any of the conditions mentioned above or have any of the symptoms described then please speak to one of our staff.  To book an appointment or find out more about our exclusive dry eye programme, Call us today and speak to a member of our team. 

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

Categories
News

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

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

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

Focusing on musicians eye pressure

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

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

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

Who Is Susceptible To Glaucoma?

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

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

What is Glaucoma?

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

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

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

Damage caused in the eye by increased pressure

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
News

She did it! Insp-eye-ering Optician Kim scoops national award

Kim Walker – Dispensing Optician of the Year 2021

We are absolutely delighted to announce that our Dispensing Optician Kim Walker has won the prized 2021 UK Optician Awards Dispensing Optician of the Year Award. Kim’s contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic are acknowledged by this award. 

This is Allegro Optical’s second Opticians Awards win in three years, which recognises excellence in the UK’s optical industry. Managing Director, Dispensing Optician Sheryl Doe scooped the prestigious award in 2019

An angel for the NHS

In addition to her work in practice Kim and her colleagues have been dispensing prescription safety eyewear to frontline NHS staff at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, Mid Yorkshire Trust Hospitals, and St James’s University Hospital Leeds. Kim has worked tirelessly for the past year to provide as many frontline NHS staff as possible with prescription eye protection as they battle the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Kim worked long hours in practice and at the Hospitals, seeing up to 50 patients a day. Even on her day off, she has gone to work and often stayed overnight due to bad weather. Often under challenging conditions, Kim has dispensed and fitted over 2000 pairs of safety glasses to NHS frontline workers, completing over 4000 appointments. Kim has been emotionally drained at times, but ever the professional, she has not let that affect her  work.

An eye on the prize

Even though Kim felt a little overwhelmed by the honour, she and Allegro Optical are thrilled to be recognised nationally once again in this way. When asked about her award Kim said ““It was a privilege to be shortlisted let alone win, I feel truly humbled and this is one the highlights of my life.”

This latest national award is a testament to Kim’s professionalism, experience, dedication, continued high level of service delivery, and Allegro Optical’s use of cutting-edge technology. 

Technology and Professionalism

Allegro Optical we pride ourselves on combining award-winning customer service with cutting-edge technology, including optical coherence tomography (OCT) scanners in both Meltham and Greenfield. With OCT imaging the Allegro Optical eye care professionals can detect signs of serious eye conditions up to 4 years earlier than with traditional methods.

We have just invested in Clinical Eye Trackers for both practices, another first in the area. Allegro Optical Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians now have a new tool to evaluate and test eye movements and binocular vision. This allows the team to provide clients with the best optical solutions in the area.

In addition to OCT and Clinical Eye Trackers, both practices now have colorimeters which are used to assess symptoms of visual stress, and other conditions including migraine, photo-sensitive epilepsy or acquired brain injuries. A grand reopening will take place in January 2022 to unveil the new equipment and the new refit. 

We are very proud to represent Holmfirth and Saddleworth nationally and continue to provide a high level of service to their loyal and local customers. 

If you would like to experience award winning eye care and the very latest in ophthalmic technology, all in sumptuous and welcoming surroundings call one of our teams in Meltham on 01484 907090 or Greenfield on 01457 353100

Categories
News

Poor eye sight and posture

Posture and Eye Sight

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

From the Eyes to the Brain

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

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

From the brain to the spine

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

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

But what if the eyes can’t see clearly

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

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

When one piece of the puzzle fails

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

•    Blurred vision, difficulty focusing and even dry sore eyes

•    Fatigue or eye strain

•    Headaches or head pressure

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

•    Numbness and muscle weakness caused by decreased circulation

•    Spinal or neck misalignment

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

Improving performance

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

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

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

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

•    How often your symptoms occur

•    How severe your symptoms are

•    Where you feel pain, pressure, or discomfort

•    The time of day when symptoms occur

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

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

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

Categories
News

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

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

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

Making Music

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

Glasses and how I #SeeTheMusic

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

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

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

 

The importance of prolonging playing careers

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

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

 

Categories
Music

In conversation Cory Band Euphonium player Glyn Williams

Glyn Williams talks to Stephen Tighe 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Symphony Hall Photo?

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of Glyn in new specs in band uniform

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

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

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

Helping musicians to #SeeTheMusic

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

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

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

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

Contact:

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

Alternatively call Greenfield 01457 353100 or Meltham 01484 907090  

Categories
Music

62% of Musicians need glasses to see the music

According to a Dutch study 

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

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

Performing Arts Eye-Care

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

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

Fast Forward

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

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

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

Music through a lens

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

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

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

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

Seeing is believing

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

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

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

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

Why do musicians visit Allegro Optical?

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

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

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

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

Categories
Music News

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

Bob Hallett Eb Bass

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

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

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

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

Looking for a solution

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

The Exam

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

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

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

It’s all in the lenses

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

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

Perfectly Framed

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

The verdict

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

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

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

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

Why do musicians come to Allegro Optical?

As an independent family run business, we are gaining an international reputation. Both for professional excellence and an inventive approach to meeting customer needs.

Now known internationally as the ‘Musician’s Opticians’ we are attracting many clients from across Europe and further afield. Our groundbreaking work with performers, players and conductors have resulted in Allegro Optical becoming the first and only opticians to gain registration with the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM).

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

Award-winning eye-care

We’ve been pretty successful in helping performers to #SeeTheMusic. In fact, in the last two years alone we have scooped no less than six national and regional awards. These awards include the National ‘Best New Arts & Entertainment Business of the Year 2019 Managing Director Sheryl Doe was awarded the 2019 Dispensing Optician of the Year and this year the business was awarded West Yorkshire’s Most Trusted Family Run Eye Care Clinic for the second year running. 

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

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