Categories
About Allegro Music

Now Yanna can see the music

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

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

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

Time to TangoA person playing a piano

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

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

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

London Calling

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

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

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

Description automatically generated

Yanna needed to see the music

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

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

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

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

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

A bit of a conundrum

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

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

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

Multiple distances require multiple solutions

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

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

Something for the piano

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

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

Things don’t always go to plan

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

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

Time lapse

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

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

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

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

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

Why do musicians come to Allegro Optical?

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

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

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

Award-winning eye-care

So successful has Allegro Optical been in helping performers that this year alone we have scooped no less than five national and regional awards. These awards include the National ‘Best New Arts & Entertainment Business of the Year‘ at a gala event in London. Managing Director Sheryl Doe was awarded the 2019 ‘Dispensing Optician of the Year‘ and in 2021 Allegro Optical Dispensing Optician Kim Walker scooped the same title.

The company has been featured in many national publications including The Times 4BarsRest, The British Bandsman and Music Teacher Magazine.
Are you a musician who is struggling with their vision? Is making music no longer the enjoyable experience it once was? If so call us at Greenfield on 01457 353100, Marsden 01484 768888 or Meltham on 01484 907090.

Categories
About Allegro

‘See The Best’ – Award winning eyecare in Meltham, Greenfield and now Marsden

A brand new practice arrives in the heart of Marsden

We are thrilled to announce that our brand new practice opened last Saturday in the picturesque village of Marsden. The new premises is located at 30 Peel Street in the centre of the Marsden village and was opened by Carol Baxter, Musical Director of the Holme Valley Flutes who played at the occasion. Carol was Allegro Optical’s very first customer when we opened our Meltham practice.

Allegro Optical opened its first Optician’s practice in Meltham in 2017 and there are currently eight members of the founding family working at the business, committed to providing exceptional customer service and products to clients in West Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Since opening our first practice over five years ago, we have ensured that every Allegro Optical practice offers a thoroughly professional and friendly service, in a clean, modern and welcoming environment. We offer comprehensive eye examinations and professional dispensing services by highly qualified Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians. In fact, our team of six Dispensing Opticians includes ‘three national Dispensing Opticians of the Year’. Stephen, Sheryl and Kim won the national award in 2006, 2019 and 2021 respectively. We combine the very latest technology and equipment and the skill set of highly consummate professionals, to provide you with the very best eye care possible.     

We also offer a full contact lens service, visual stress assessments, Optical Coherence Tomography, saccadic eye-tracking and a complete hearing care service with our fully qualified Audiologists, hearing aid dispensers and Hearing Care Nurse providing a comprehensive ear wax removal service including irrigation and microsuction, giving you the option to choose the method you prefer.

Group Managing Director Stephen Tighe states:  “We as directors have made a firm commitment to not only survive these difficult times but to grow and thrive during them. Due to the success of our Greenfield practice which opened in 2019, the previous history of Allegro Optical in Meltham and the opportunity to acquire new premises in Marsden, we believe this is the perfect time to expand. As a former resident of Marsden, I think the village has a great deal of potential in the future.  We are very happy to come to Marsden and we are looking forward to welcoming new clients to our practice.

The two-storey premises brings more capacity for clients, with a state of the art test room, a camera equipment room, eyewear styling room and a large shop floor, which is currently playing host to an exhibition of local art by artists Matt Turner and Kevin Threlfall. Which hopefully will help the local arts community.

The expansion has also allowed Allegro Optical to take on another professional optometrist and a dispensing optician to cope with increasing demand.

Optical Managing Director Sheryl Doe said: “We wanted to make Marsden a flagship, capable of accommodating the latest technology, but without it feeling or looking clinical  and we are delighted with the results.”

If you live locally and would like to take the opportunity to experience award-winning dispensing and eye care we would love to welcome you. 
We’re also now offering a style consultation service to help you find the perfect pair to suit your style. So please give us a call in either Marsden 01484 768888, Greenfield 01457 353100 or Meltham 01484 907090 to find the perfect match. Also, follow us on Twitter @AllegroOptical. Or on Instagram @allegrooptical.

Categories
Music

Guest blog by pianist Norma Wilson

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

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

Wet Macular Degeneration – a musicians perspective.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Norma Wilson

Categories
About Allegro

Post COVID-19 Eye Exam Upgrade

Are Private Eye Tests Better than NHS Sight Tests?

Many people are eligible for free NHS sight tests, but anyone who doesn’t meet the criteria must pay for a private eye exam. The question is, which is better?

One of the biggest differences between an NHS sight test and a private eye examination is the thoroughness of the examination itself and the number of different investigative tests and assessments carried out during the examination. 

NHS Sight Test

During an NHS funded sight test, the optometrist will also take a history of your health and vision. They will check your vision using a sight test chart and carry out an examination of your eye.  If clinically necessary you will also be offered a visual field screening test to check your peripheral vision,a check of your eye pressure and the optometrist may also take a photograph of your retina.  

NHS sight tests take between 15 to 20 minutes and you will be issued with a prescription. If eligible you will be given an optical voucher to help with the cost of your glasses.

Going Private and Advanced Optometry

During a private eye examination this initial process is similar to an NHS sight test, but what follows is a more detailed examination of the eye. All the private eye exams at Allegro Optical take between 45 – 60  minutes and include fundus photography, which captures a digital photograph of the inner surface of your eyes. 

Further tests including eScoop, for Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), tear film assessments for dry eye, Colorimetry for visual stress, migraine and dyslexia may also be required. 

Our Advanced Optometry eye examinations are more bespoke and give clients the opportunity to tailor their eye examination to their concerns. Eye exams can include a 3D OCT eye scan, similar to an ultrasound scan. 3D OCT scans reveal the many layers that make up the back of your eyes which cannot be seen using the traditional methods used during an NHS sight test. 3D OCT scans can detect early changes in the eye allowing us to detect some conditions up to four years earlier than traditional methods.

In addition to the 3D OCT, clients are offered an extended visual field examination often including a binocular Esterman Visual Field test, similar to that required by the DVLA. This is a 120 point test and allows us to plot both your central vision and also your peripheral vision. It also checks for any scotomas (blind spots) reduced fixation or areas of reduced sensitivity. 

Allegro Optical is the only optical group in the area to offer Saccadic eye-tracking for binocular balance and ocular dominance issues. 

At the end of the eye examination you will be issued with your prescription, and an eye health report including your OCT scan, field plots and your eye tracking report if required.

Eye exam Upgrade

Throughout April and May Allegro Optical is offering everyone an eye exam upgrade. Those eligible for NHS sight tests will be offered a free upgrade to a private eye examination and those who pay privately will be offered the Advanced Optometry eye exams for the same price.

If you are due an eye exam and would like to upgrade free of charge book your eye exam today call Meltham on 01484 907090 or from mid April you can visit our new practice in Marsden by calling 01484 76888

Categories
About Allegro

New Year – New Look or a family affair, by Abigayle Doe

 

Christmas is a time to spend with our loved ones, and New Year is generally a time for reflection and resolutions. For The Allegro Optical family New Year 2021/22 was no different. We took the opportunity to refurbish both our practices. It was a real family affair with everyone getting stuck in.

Helen dealt with getting all the equipment wired back in, Stephen showed off his wallpapering skills. Zac, who turned out to be a dab hand at DIY, installed our new units. Both Myself and Sheryl (Mum) painted the practices. Even our youngest family members got involved with Matthew and Finley playing the piano to accompany us as we worked. We were joined by Dispensing Optician Kim who, as it turns out, is a bit of a whizz at edging.

At times this refurbishment felt like an overwhelming task to attempt and accomplish within a week. However, we all pulled together and each and every day I was amazed at the fruits of our labour. With us all working together it didn’t feel so daunting and we accomplished so much in such a short amount of time.

Looking at both Greenfield and Meltham, the preparation, planning and work has all been worth it. I am incredibly proud of what we achieved.  We all love the warmth and family feel of each practice. I feel that the practices look both modern and homely, with a warm inviting atmosphere that is only enhanced by the members of staff in each practice. 

We have always strived to deliver excellence in our eyecare services. Not only do we use all the latest equipment such as OCT, which takes a 3D scan of the eyes, but we also offer more specialist services such as colorimetry which allows us to test for visual stress, and Eyewear Styling to help our clients find the perfect pair of spectacles. 

 

 

Categories
About Allegro

It’s been a funny old year for this optician

As we look back on what can only be considered another strange year, we’re reviewing the past 12 months. We all started the year glad to see the back of 2020, because let’s face it who would want to go back there again! 

2021 began in tiers, we started the year in tier 4 and the North of England experienced another mini lockdown as the infection rate continued to rise. 

A new year and a new face

In spite of the pandemic, Allegro Optical continued to grow and in March Charlene Bradford joined the team. Charlie joined the team from hearing care provider Amplifon and with her came a wealth of knowledge. 

Spring was music to our eyes and ears

By the spring we were seeing a return of our musical clients as many musicians returned to performing as theatres and concert halls reopened. It was so good to feel nearly normal again and get back to enjoying helping performing artists to #SeeTheMusic.

Helping front line workers

While we were busy helping musicians and performers, Dispensing Optician Kim was busy working her socks off providing the frontline staff of  NHS mid-Yorkshire Trust with prescription safety goggles. Starting with just the one hospital, Pinderfields General Hospital, the project has since grown to include Kirklees and Calderdale trust and Leeds St James’s University Hospital.

An eye on the future

In May, we installed a new OCT machine in Greenfield, making Allegro Optical the ONLY optician in Saddleworth & Meltham to have this hospital grade technology. Taking care of your eyes is now so much easier with our new 3D Ocular Coherence Tomography scanner. It is not available on the NHS, but it is available to NHS patients for a small extra fee. 

An OCT scan can help detect sight-threatening eye conditions earlier. It is possible to detect glaucoma up to four years sooner. Greenfield’s resident Optometrist Sara was over the moon to be able to provide cutting-edge eye care to the people of Saddleworth. Sara commented that she is pleased to now be offering OCT scans as part of eye exams. “OCT adds great value to our optician service, since it enables us to detect and manage conditions with a level of diagnostic capabilities that previously couldn’t be achieved without visiting a hospital,” Said Sara. Detecting these conditions early is the key to helping manage them or referring patients for treatment”.

More new faces

As the year progressed we continued to grow and in July and August, Trainee Optical Assistant Rebecca and Optometrist Liz joined the team. Both young ladies are keen pianists and Liz is also a talented clarinettist.

August was also a month of celebration as Allegro Optical was again named as SME News, West Yorkshire’s Most Trusted Family Run Eye Care Clinic for the second year running.

As a family we usually mark Yorkshire day on the 1st August every year and this year it was particularly special. 

October was all ears

During October, the focus was on hearing care and ear wax removal. Hearing care professionals Audiologist Farzana and Registered Nurse Harriet joined the Allegro Optical family providing Ear Wax removal services such as irrigation and microsuction.

As a result of GPs no longer offering ear syringing, the Ear wax removal service addresses a more prevalent problem in the community than you might think. Harriet has a background in community nursing of more than 10 years and is putting the techniques she has learned to good use. An audiologist by training, Ferzana says her job is a perfect blend of clinical and social aspects. Both ladies work in Meltham and Greenfield, and they are always willing to assist when needed. 

Saving the best till last

In true Hollywood style 2021 saved the best till last when our very own Kim Walker won the prized title of Dispensing Optician of the Year at the Opticians Awards gala dinner in Mayfair. The award is Allegro Optical’s second Opticians Awards win in three years, which recognises excellence in the UK’s optical industry. 

Safety eyewear specialist Kim Walker was shortlisted for this award, one of our industry’s most prestigious in October. Still not quite sure the win really has happened 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.”

What ever next?

 

As we write this blog, we are experiencing a sense of déjà vu, with new restrictions and COVID-19 measures looming after Christmas, many of us are thinking “Here we go again”. The last thing we want to do is return to 2020.

During the holiday season, we will let our team enjoy some family time and a well-deserved break. We won’t rest on our laurels while they recharge their batteries. Our Greenfield practice in Saddleworth as well as our founding store in Meltham, Holmfirth will undergo renovations and enter the New Year with a new look and cutting-edge equipment. Watch this space!

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