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Look after your vision after “Low Vision Month”

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

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

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

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

What is low vision?

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

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

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

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

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

What happens after registration?

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

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

Why does Low Vision happen?

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

Can we prevent Low vision?

There isn’t an easy answer.

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

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

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

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

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

What can be done for low vision?

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

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

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

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

And finally…

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

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Flipping Heck Pancake Day is here

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

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

Shrove Tuesday

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

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

 A bit of history

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

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

How will you eat yours?

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

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Celebrating Great British Design

MD Stephen Tighe explains why we love Great British Design

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the beginning

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

Ashton Riley York from Allegro Optical Opticians

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

Buy British

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

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

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

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Look after your eyes and treat them to the best 

Today we talk about how to look after your eyes

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

Low vision and how to protect your eye health


Eat healthily

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

Raw beet salad


Avoid dry eyes

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

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

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

Take regular breaks

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

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

Rodenstock computer glasses

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

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

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

Employees can help their eyes by:

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


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

Stop smoking

It could be in the genes

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

3D OCT from Allegro Optical Opticians long

Make time to have regular eye examinations

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

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

Award-winning eye-care

In the last twelve months, Allegro Optical has scooped no less than five national and regional awards. These awards include the National ‘Best New Arts & Entertainment Business of the Year‘ at a gala event in London. Managing Director Sheryl Doe was awarded the 2019 ‘Dispensing Optician of the Year‘ and she was a finalist in the AOP Dispensing Optician of the year 2020. Allegro Optical’s cutting edge approach to dispensing and their musical experience has led to the team being shortlisted for the prestigious Opticians Awards, Optical Assistant team of the year 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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Allegro Optical 100%

We’ve had a bit of a break away this weekend as some of the Allegro team visited 100% Optical. Established in 2014, 100% Optical has quickly become the largest optical event in the UK. With over 9000 visitors and more than 200 exhibitors, this was an event we have been keen to attend for sometime.

So this weekend the Saddleworth team packed their bags and we set off for London. 100 % Optical gives us the opportunity to search for some new frames, catch up with our current suppliers, meet new ones and catch up with other professionals in the optical industry. We also took along James’ new anti-gravity selfie stick to film the event and below are some of the results.

Allegro Optical the musicians optician at 100% Optical

While at the event we met up with Caron Eyewear, whose beautiful frames are created by internationally renowned eyewear designer Caron Kraitt, right here in the heart of London. We are always looking for something different for our clients and this collection is just that. All the frames in the Caron Eyewear collection are designed to enhance and perfect the relationship between the face and the eyewear. Caron’s frames are inspired by and celebrate modern women. Those who are not afraid to flaunt their natural femininity and beauty while proudly showing their personal strength and independence.

We’ve ordered some of Carons beautiful frames and they will be arriving in store very soon. So keep your eyes open and watch this space for the arrival of these beautiful feminine frames.

It’s always good to meet up with some old friends, so we popped by to see David and Helen from David Green Eyewear. It’s always nice to see what new models David has launched since we last met and today was no exception. At Allegro Optical we love David Green Eyewear, with its unique incorporation of nature and sustainability.

While we were at 100% Optical we also called in to see our friends on the ABDO College stand and enrol James on his next course. We passionately believe that there is no substitute for formal training and our aim is to help James become the very best optical professional possible. Professionalism is the key and we believe that your eyecare is so important and you deserve to see a qualified professional at every step of your optical journey with us. James writes a regular blog about his studies and shares some of the more interesting things he gets up to.

No trip to an optical trade show would be complete without catching up with the iCET team, who provide all our optical professionals with onsite CET training. CET is a statutory requirement for all fully-qualified optometrists and dispensing opticians. The CET scheme is a points-based scheme that runs over a three-year cycle. Co-founder Stuart Wellings is a Dispensing Optician and the founder of iCET, he is also a  practical examiner for the Association of British Dispensing Opticians and featured in the #notjustado campaign just like our Sheryl.

On Sunday evening we attended the AOP awards. Sheryl was a finalist in the AOP2020 Dispensing Optician of the year. She didn’t win this year but is still very proud to be one of only three people to reach the finals.

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Xanthe takes a look at Burns Night

Burns Night, it’s that time of year!

The 25th January is a date many of you may think is like any other day, but in Scotland it’s Burns Night and it’s a bit special. Celebrated throughout Scotland with festivals and an interesting meal called Burns supper. Burn’s Night is celebrated in the name of Scotland’s most famous poet, Robert Burns. He wrote hundreds of poems, one of which you’re likely to have sung (yes sung) recently but more on that later.

 Who was Robert Bruns?

Robert Burns was born in Alloway, Scotland on the 25th of January, hence why it’s celebrated on the 25th. He was one of seven children (bet that was a long queue for the bathroom in the morning).

Allegro Optical opticians Robbie Burns Burns night

Unfortunately he died at the very young age of 37 on July 21st 1796 of a heart condition called Endocarditis following a dental extraction in 1795. He had 12 children by 4 different women! (Clearly, he liked to flirt

How is Burns night celebrated?

Burns night nowadays is celebrated in very much the same way as it was the very first time. Although the date was slightly different, due to a mix up over Robert Burns birth date, some thought it was the 29th. The first Burns supper was held in Burns Cottage where he was born. The event was held by Burn’s friends on the 29th January 1802. But by 1803, they had discovered the Ayr parish records that noted his date of birth was actually 25th January 1759 (Awkward!).

Allegro Optical does burns night

Burns suppers, as they are referred to, usually include Scottish haggis, served up with mashed turnips and potatoes. Other Traditions included reading of his poems, dancing and traditional Scottish music played on bagpipes. Oh and don’t forget the wee dram of Whisky!

Poems at midnight

You may be sat there thinking but I’m not Scottish and never heard of Burns night or Robert Burns himself. But I can guarantee at some point every one of us has sung one of his poems. One of Robert Burns poems was “Auld Lang Syne” the song most often sung at midnight on New Year’s Eve (interesting fact in Scotland they call it Hogmanay).

Allegro Optical opticians does Burns night

So what has all this got to do with glasses and why is an optician writing about Burns Night, I hear you cry. Well let me tell you, absolutely nothing! Although we do stock some lovely Scottish frames including the amazing Hemp Eyewear, which is handmade in Edinburgh.

Hemp eyewear from Allegro Optical Opticians in MelthamBut this evening is Burns Night and we plan to enjoy it, so I’ll raise a wee dram to you as we celebrate Robbie Burns 261st birthday.