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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

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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

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Music

#SeeTheMusic and More – Cataracts, are they clouding your performance?

Cataracts 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.

At some point in our lives, most of us will have vision problems. The majority of these problems are caused by refractive errors, which means they’re problems with the way the eyes focus light, rather than an eye disease or disorder. However, there are some eye disorders and diseases that many of us could experience. This blog series highlights the common eye conditions that many performing arts professionals encounter. 

Here is our list of the 5 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.

Cataracts: An overview…

Cataracts are the result of the crystalline lens, developing cloudy patches. The crystalline lens is an important part of the eye’s anatomy that allows the eye to focus on objects at varying distances. It is located behind the iris and in front of the vitreous body.

These patches tend to grow larger over time, causing blurry, misty vision and eventually blindness.

Our lenses are generally clear when we’re young, allowing us to see through them. As we age they start to become frosted or yellow, like dirty bathroom windows, often severely limiting vision.

It is common for both eyes to be affected by cataracts. That said, they may not necessarily develop at the same time or be the same type of cataract in each eye. They’re more common in older adults and can impact daily activities such as driving. Cataracts can also affect young children and babies.

Seeking medical advice

Consult an optician if any of these symptoms occur:

  • Blurred or misty vision
  • Lights seem too bright or glaring 
  • You have trouble seeing in low light
  • Night driving is difficult
  • Colours appear faded
  • If you wear glasses, you may feel your lenses need constant cleaning, or that your lens coating isn’t working.

Although most cataracts aren’t painful and won’t irritate your eyes, if they’re in an advanced stage or you suffer from another eye disorder, they may cause discomfort.

Performing Arts Professionals and Cataracts

Q: Can Cataracts Affect My Performance?

A:  Cataracts can affect sight-reading and your ability to perform if your vision is affected as a result.  The crystalline lens is similar to the camera lens. Through it, light is focused on the retina for processing as vision. Cataracts form when Collagen, the most abundant protein in the body, builds up on the lens, clouding vision.

As cataracts progress, you may encounter issues with limited vision.  You may have difficulty seeing music on the stand, the accidentals, dynamics or even key signatures. For dancers, dance notation may appear blurred or for production staff problems viewing computer screens may become evident.  As cataracts progress, they can affect more aspects of your day-to-day and performing life if left unchecked.

We find that musicians tend to feel the effects of cataracts sooner than most general practice clients. This is because cataracts cause problems with sight-reading and depending on the type of cataract can appear as blurred patches or discoloured areas across the music manuscript. 

There are 31 types of cataracts, but the 3 main types of age-related cataracts are nuclear sclerotic, posterior subcapsular and cortical. Because they’re grouped by where they form, they present slightly different symptoms, develop at different speeds, and have different causes. They can all cause progressive vision loss, which means the vision gets worse over time.

Nuclear sclerotic cataract

Nuclear sclerosis is the most commonly occurring type of cataract. ‘Nuclear’ refers to it from the nucleus of the lens, while ‘sclerosis’ refers to hardened body tissue. 

Symptoms

It is difficult to focus when you have nuclear sclerosis. As your sight deteriorates, you might experience a temporary improvement in your close-up vision. As your cataract progresses, your vision will deteriorate again. Objects at a distance will appear blurry and colours will appear faded as the lens yellows further.

Cortical cataract

‘Cortical’ refers to the outer layer of something, which describes this cataract as being on the outer edge of the lens,– the opposite of a nuclear sclerotic cataract. A cortical cataract develops spoke-like lines that lead to the centre of the lens, scattering light as it enters the eye.

Symptoms

Your vision may be blurred or you may see blurry lines. You can also experience problems with glare from the sun and artificial lighting, as well as driving at night. Cortical cataracts may develop fairly quickly, with symptoms becoming more apparent within months rather than years.

Posterior subcapsular cataract

They form at the back of the lens – i.e., posterior – in the capsule where the lens sits (subcapsular). Cataracts in this area can produce more disproportionate symptoms for their size because the light is more focused towards the back of the lens. Diabetes or extreme short-sightedness place you at greater risk for a subcapsular cataract. Additionally, if you are exposed to radiation or use steroids, you may develop a cataract of this type.

Symptoms

Under certain conditions, a subcapsular cataract can cause difficulty seeing in bright light and can produce glare or halos around lights at night – so it can be particularly problematic when on stage or when dealing with stage lighting. You may have blurry vision and be unable to read.  Subcapsular cataracts tend to develop faster than both nuclear sclerotic and cortical cataracts.

Performers visual demands

Performers are required to use one or more of the following skills:

  • Rapid changes in focus. Changing focus between objects at different distances rapidly and accurately is vision focusing. A musician, for instance, needs to read the music on the stand, look at the conductor and other members of the ensemble all at different distances clearly and accurately. This can be affected by cataracts as they cause the lens to become stiff, affecting the lenses flexibility and the ability to change focus quickly.
  • Vision fixation: The ability to read sheet music, regardless of how fast its tempo. This also can be affected by cataracts as they cause blurring, glare and patchy vision.
  • Peripheral vision: The ability to see and observe out of the corner of your eye when looking at a fixed object such as sheet music on the stand. In an orchestra, a player must be able to see both their stand partner or another member of their section even when they may be unable to alter their head position due to their instrument.  This can be severely compromised by cortical cataracts that begin on the outside edge of the lens (the peripheral). Cortical spokes, or white streaks or wedge-shaped opacities, progress inward on the lens, impairing vision and obstructing light reflection. 
  • Focusing regulation: The ability to retain eye coordination during high-speed activities or while under high physiological pressure.

The above demands can place a lot of pressure on the performer, especially when their vision isn’t up to par. 

Effective treatment of age-related cataracts

For a while, new glasses and brighter reading lights can ease the symptoms of cataracts. 

However, cataracts do get worse over time, so you’ll eventually need surgery to remove and replace the affected lens.

The only proven treatment for cataracts is surgery. During cataract surgery, an artificial lens replaces the cloudy one inside the eye. The procedure is highly effective at improving vision, but it can take between two and six weeks for vision to be fully restored.

Generally, cataract surgery takes 30 to 45 minutes. It is usually done as a day surgery under local anaesthesia, and you can usually go home the same day. 

Monofocal lenses are offered by the NHS, which have a single point of focus. In other words, the lens will be fixed either for near vision or distance vision, but not both.

If you opt to have your surgery privately, both multifocal and accommodating lenses are available to you, which allow you to focus on both near and distant objects.

Unless you have opted for multifocal or accommodating lenses most people will need to wear glasses for some tasks, like reading, using computers or reading music.

If you have cataracts in both eyes, surgery is done 6 to 12 weeks apart to allow the recovery of one eye at a time.

In Summary

Cataract treatment is beneficial to both performers and amateurs. However, they do have limitations and will not stop the ageing process. We recommend that you continue with regular eye examinations after your surgery, Either every two years or 12 months, as recommended by your optometrists. As performers ourselves our unique perspective enables us to offer balanced, impartial advice on all aspects of cataract treatment.

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 hyperopic performing arts practitioners’ vision problems.

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

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Music

#SeeTheMusic and More – Presbyopia and performing arts professionals

Presbyopia and the performing arts professional

In our unique position as the UK’s only eye care specialists working with performing arts professionals, we are well aware of how eye disorders and refractive errors can negatively impact careers. As BAPAM registered practitioners we are using this series of blogs to highlight and explain many common eye conditions that performers face. The performing arts professionals that we have helped include musicians and presenters, dancers and camera operators, sound technicians and singers.

The four most common types of refractive error are:

  • Myopia or Short-sightedness. Myopia results from light focusing just short of the retina due to the cornea or the eyeball being too long.
  • Hyperopia or Long-sightedness. Generally, hyperopia is a result of the eyeball being too short from front to back, or of problems with the shape of the cornea (the top clear layer of the eye) or lens (the part of the eye that helps the eye to focus).
  • Presbyopia or Old Sight. Presbyopia is caused by a hardening of the eyes crystalline lens, which occurs with ageing. As our lenses become less flexible, they can no longer change shape to focus on close-up images.
  • Astigmatism, or rugby ball-shaped eyes. Astigmatism causes blurred distance and near vision due to a curvature abnormality in the eye. A person with astigmatism either has an irregular corneal surface or a lens inside the eye that has mismatched curves. 

In the UK, 61 percent of people have vision problems that require corrective action. Just over 10 percent of people regularly wear contact lenses, and more than half wear glasses. However, not all vision problems are caused by refractive error. In spite of the name, presbyopia is not caused by refractive error, but rather by the hardening of the crystalline lens of the eye as we age. The lenses become less flexible as they age, so they cannot focus on close-up objects.

There are several symptoms associated with presbyopia, including blurry vision, headaches, and difficulty focusing on objects up close. Vision continues to deteriorate as we age. 

Presbyopia and the musician

Presbyopia affects performing arts professionals slowly over time and may present some with career-limiting consequences A performer with presbyopia has difficulty seeing objects that are close to them clearly, from around the age of 50 this includes the music on the stand. Often objects at a distance remain relatively clear unless the presbyopia is combined with another eye condition or refractive error.  The numerous working distances present a variety of challenges to the performer. The need to see the music on the stand is often the biggest issue. Even so, seeing the conductor, the audience, the soloist, and other sections of the ensemble clearly can pose a challenge. 

What causes presbyopia?

As we age, the lens of our eyes becomes less flexible and we have difficulty focusing on close-up objects. Imagine the eye as a camera. Whether an object is near or far, the lens of the camera can autofocus on it. Our eyes work in a similar way. The iris works with our corneas to focus light. Our curved corneas bend light, and then a tiny circular muscle encircling our crystalline lenses contract or relax, causing a change of focus. The muscle relaxes if the object is far away. When something is close, the muscle contracts, allowing us to focus on nearby items such as a book, computer screen, mobile phone or sheet music. However, as we age, our eyes continue to grow and add layers of cells to the lens – a bit like an onion! As a result, the lens becomes thicker and less flexible. Nearby objects are blurred as a result.

#SeeTheMusic and more

The visual demands of performing artists and those who work in production are extremely diverse. Thus, presbyopia can pose some serious challenges. Musicians and presenters must contend with music on the stand or an autocue for the presenter. In the production control room, the production team views multiple screens on a wall of video monitors. The team typically reviews scripts, running orders, production notes and often musical scores as well. Focusing at multiple distances can be challenging in a fast-paced environment such as this.

Musicians and performers often ask us, as performing arts eye care specialists, “What makes their eyes so unique?” Performers’ vision or their eyes aren’t particularly exceptional, but the way they use them is. Artists share many characteristics with athletes when it comes to the many visual demands they are subjected to.

The vision skills required for all sports, both competitive and non-competitive, differ depending on the sport. The same is true for most performers, whether they are professionals or amateurs, what instrument they play and the ensemble they play in. Their role as a performing arts professional presents different challenges, from sound technicians, camera operators, production staff and lighting engineers, they all have multiple viewing distances and visual demands.

Allegro Optical has developed detailed assessments of vision skills for artists and performers of all ages using advanced diagnostic equipment and investigative techniques.

Most performing arts professionals need one or more of the following skills:

  • Vision focusing:

    A capability to change focus quickly and precisely between objects of different distances. Musicians must be able to read the music on the stand, look at their conductor, and see other sections of the ensemble clearly and accurately from different distances.

  • Vision fixation:

    Music reading skills, particularly at a fast tempo and regardless of how fast the music moves.

  • Peripheral vision:

    Observing an object out of the corner of your eye, such as a sheet of music on a stand or a bank of flat or curved screens in a production room. Even when a player is unable to alter their head position due to their instrument, they must still be able to see both their stand partner or another member of their section.

  • Focusing regulation:

    Maintaining eye coordination during high-speed activities or when under high physiological pressure.

Effective treatment of Presbyopia

Spectacles

Presbyopia presents unique challenges for first-time spectacle wearers, such as a reduction in depth of focus when wearing reading glasses. Spectacles used solely to correct presbyopia (reading glasses) have a number of disadvantages, including an enlarged image size or magnification, peripheral distortions, and a reduced field of vision.

All of these present performance-limiting challenges to the performer. As Michael Downes, Director of Music St Andrew’s University said “Things had become more challenging very quickly – until I was 47 or 48 I didn’t have any problems at all, but then they rapidly became severe. The ‘tipping point’ was an April 2019 concert – I realised that unless I did something about it I would no longer be able to carry on doing my job to a satisfactory standard.

Without the help given me by Allegro Optical, I think I would be continuing to have very severe difficulties.”  

Many performing arts professionals turn to varifocals, bifocals or “office” lenses to resolve their vision problems, however all of these lenses present the musician with problems. Even the very best individual designs and “tailor made” varifocal lenses provide a narrow field of clear vision. 

Occupational, “Office” or computer lenses provide a wider field of view, but the depth of field is often limited to 2-4 metres.

Bifocal lenses do offer a limited solution in that the bottom of the lens will magnify the music on the stand and the upper part of the lens provides a clear view of the conductor, however, the wearer does experience two different image sizes. This is known as image jump and it can present problems to some wearers.

Contact lenses

Some performers prefer to use contact lenses, particularly if they find using glasses inconvenient or unattractive.

The lightweight and near-invisible properties of contact lenses make them appealing to performers, but a presbyopic correction can sometimes be less satisfactory if not worn before.  Presbyopic contact lens wearers often complain that they can’t see as well in contact lenses and that their distance vision is compromised.  In addition to a long-wear period and a dry, warm and often dusty environment, wearing contact lenses on stage can also exacerbate dry eyes. Most contact lens wearers experience dry eye symptoms toward the end of the day. Unfortunately, the majority of musicians perform in the evening, so this often coincides with their performances. For musicians, especially those who work as freelancers or session musicians, dry eyes can lead to blurred patches of vision that make sight-reading difficult.

Laser eye surgery

Laser eye surgery is often considered as a way around having to use glasses and contact lenses, we would add a word of caution here for performing arts professionals. We see many clients who come to us a few years after having undergone laser surgery. Most complain that while they can still see well in the distance and for reading, their music reading distance is deteriorating, especially if they have opted for a monovision correction. When performers ask us about laser surgery we usually recommend lens replacement surgery. 

Lens implant surgery

Lens implants are a viable and long-term treatment for presbyopia. A small incision is made in the cornea to implant an artificial multifocal lens into your eye to focus light more clearly onto the retina for all distances.

Also known as Refractive lens exchange (RLE) is an operation similar to cataract surgery in which the natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial one.

The procedure is typically done under local anaesthesia, and you can normally go home the same day. The procedure is usually done separately for each eye.

In Summary

Both performers and amateurs find many of the optical corrections discussed above to be a viable solution to the problems posed by presbyopia. Some however find the plethora of solutions available on the high street to be far from ideal. 

As performers ourselves our unique perspective enables us to offer balanced, impartial advice, it also allows us to create unique lens designs and optical solutions to correct the vision disturbance presented by presbyopia. 

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 and their access to cutting edge diagnostic equipment and dispensing procedures our unique approach can help to resolve hyperopic performing arts practitioners vision problems.

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

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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!

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News

Christmas – It’s the most wonderful time of year

But don’t overlook your eye health

It’s the most wonderful time of year, or so the song goes. There’ll be parties for hosting marshmallows for toasting, and carolling out in the snow. We celebrate the holiday season with parties, music and an abundance of food and drink. But this time of year comes with some risks, not just to our waistline but also to our eyes. This festive season the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) is highlighting the risks of a range of ‘makeup mistakes’ with posts across social media.* Recent research undertaken by ABDO has found that a surprising 44% of women have left their eye makeup on overnight at least once, whilst 28% of those surveyed use eye make-up that is out of date. It also revealed that 27% don’t clean their make-up application brushes regularly enough.

A good routine

Did you know that not removing your eye makeup daily with a specific eye makeup remover, and or failing to regularly clean any application brushes you use will increase the risk of a bacterial eye infection? This is also true for if you don’t replace your makeup as often as is recommended on the packaging. The research found that as many as 11% of women in the UK are at risk of damaging their eyes by applying eyeliner to the inside of their lashes.  The eyelid margins are the location of many important glands with the job of contributing oils to the tear layer. For this reason, ABDO recommends that make-up should not be applied inside the lash line. By leaving this area clear you will optimise your tear film and avoid recurrent dryness. With brow and Lash treatments growing in popularity they were surprised to find that only 15% of women know how to check if a treatment provider is correctly licensed and certified to provide their services and an amazing 86% would still go for treatment even if they were not fully licenced.

When things go wrong

The research found that less than half of the women surveyed (43%) would see an optician if they were experiencing any discomfort in their eyes. In a UK wide press-release, ABDO urged anyone with any eye care concerns to seek assistance from their optician. In many areas across the UK, you can now access eye care and treatment from your optician on the NHS under the Primary Care Eye Assessment and Referral Service PEARS. So this festive season make your optician your first port of call for any eye problems. Allegro Optical is an accredited Opticians participating in the PEARS Scheme. We provide a free eye care service for people with minor eye conditions. If you need advice or treatment for a recent eye condition contact us on 01484 907090 or visit https://www.allegrooptical.co.uk/services/pears-scheme/   Allegro Optical Opticians-Christmas-Makeup-Infographic Christmas 2018
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News

Eyesight and the digital age

Amy’s eyes are now fit for the digital age and the great outdoors

From team building days with outdoor activities to first aid training and hill skills, Splat Training do the lot. Surrounded by beautiful countryside who could ask for a better workplace? Splat Training provides team building activities including herding sheep, and sampling Yorkshire ales. They also run courses on-hill skills for those who would like to learn or develop their map reading and navigation skills along with interesting training course on leading guided walks.

A Allegro Optical Map Reading Glasses Hill Skills courses Splat Training

Splat Training is the brainchild of founder Amy Gault, a qualified teacher from Todmorden. SPLAT training provides a range first aid training from First Aid at Work to Emergency First Aid in the Workplace to Paediatric First Aid and Parent and Child First Aid. However, SPLAT also offers Team building experiences, Hill Walker’s Navigation training and Schools events. The inspiration for these wide-ranging services grew from nearly 20 years’ experience in the outdoor industry; combing her teaching qualifications and her beautiful farm based classroom location at Staups Lea Farm. Hill walking and climbing have been a lifelong passion of Amy’s, and she has been an outdoor pursuits instructor since 2000.

While the great outdoors is Amy’s place of work, running a business requires a certain amount of paperwork. Whether we entrepreneurs like it or not we have to spend a fair proportion of our working week tackling the figures and balancing the books. While many entrepreneurs see the paperwork as tedious, this was certainly becoming the case for Amy as she struggled with her deteriorating vision. Amy had used reading glasses for some time, but these no longer provided a sufficient correction for the computer and written work. Seeking a satisfactory solution Amy contacted us at Allegro Optical and travelled to Meltham for an eye examination and sight test.

Presbyopia

Allegro Optical Opticians in Meltham are members of BNI Networking

We found Amy’s eyes to be perfectly healthy and her deteriorating vision was caused by ongoing presbyopia. Presbyopia is a form of long-sightedness caused by loss of elasticity of the crystalline lens of the eye. This condition occurs typically in middle age, but as we move into the digital age we often see it occurring from the early thirties. As we use more and different digital devices we are seeing presbyopia present in clients much earlier. This observation is supported by many optical professionals “Presbyopia or loss of the accommodating power of the lens, which mostly happened around the age of 40, has started occurring quite early among the people. Excess use of mobile phones causing it early by making the eye lens harder and making it lose elasticity. The result is a gradual worsening of the ability to focus on objects up close,” said Mahipal Sachdev, Chairman of Centre for Sight (CFS)*. According to the World Health Organisation, more than a billion people in the world were presbyopic as of 2005, while the number had doubled in 2015.

We dispensed Amy with a pair of i-focus plus Freeform Digital Single Vision lenses by Lenstec which combine ergonomics and aesthetics providing the very best optical performance available and provide a little extra magnification to the lower third of the lens. Each lens is unique and takes into account the wearers prescription, pupil position and the 3D shape of the selected frame. By providing Amy with clear vision when using her desktop computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone and paperwork. This adaptable clear vision gives Amy a perfect visual solution adapted to her individual needs.

Amy of Splat Training uses Allegro Optical Opticians in Meltham and Greenfield

These lenses are normally used as single vision lenses providing increased performance at work with slight reading support. On this occasion, we dispensed these lenses with Amy’s computer or intermediate prescription in the top of the lenses and used the power boost in the lower section of the lens to help with closer work. This approach gave Amy a useable correction at all her working distances, helping with that all important administration.

Amy can see the world…and the map

When asked about her new glasses Amy Said “And don’t forget the map reading – It’s easy to get lost when you can’t see the map, now I can read the map and see the world at the same time, it’s a joy. Service was wonderful too, Thank you Allegro”

With the digital world rapidly expanding beyond the desktop computer and around 32% of the population in the age range of 35–50 years spending an average of 9 hours on digital devices each day, it’s not surprising that more and more thirty-somethings are reporting symptoms of digital eye strain and showing signs of presbyopia*.

We know that not everyone wants to move into varifocals but find that reading glasses are no longer working at all the different working distances they need. If you are finding using digital devices and reading small print challenging give us a call on 01484 907090.

*https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/mobile-phones-causing-presbyopia-at-an-early-age-doctors/53593478?redirect=1

https://www.dovepress.com/evaluahttp://*https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/mobile-phones-causing-presbyopia-at-an-early-age-doctors/53593478?redirect=1tion-of-binocular-function-among-pre–and-early-presbyopes-with–peer-reviewed-fulltext-article-OPTO

*https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/mobile-phones-causing-presbyopia-at-an-early-age-doctors/53593478?redirect=1

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About Allegro News

Specialist lenses are our speciality

Hobbies often require specific equipment, even glasses

At Allegro Optical Opticians in Meltham, we like to think a little “Out of the box”. We know that a “one size fits all” approach often fails to produce an optical solution that performs well at all distances. It is very rare for one pair of spectacles to provide adequate performance for all the demands of today’s busy lifestyles. Particularly for the over 50s. We see clients every day wanting specialist lenses. Mostly they want musician’s spectacles to help them with their profession or hobby. But recently we have seen an increase in Hobbyists attending our practice, wanting an optical solution when crafting.

In fact, many of our staff are very “crafty.” 

Our Optometrist, Claire is an avid crafter, enjoying hobbies such as knitting and card making. Receptionists Josie and Jill both enjoy a spot of crafting with Josie producing some amazing quilts and applique, while Jill creates some fabulous chocolate creations and is a creative mind behind the amazing window displays in Meltham. So needless to say our team really do understand the visual requirements of the crafter. A crafty Solution Recently we were visited by a lovely lady Diane Whitehouse, she enjoys paper crafting,  cardmaking and more recently painting. In fact, she is showing her work in her first exhibition experience during November and December. The exhibition will be in Hebden Bridge at the Xpresso Arts Studio Annual Show. The exhibition is being held at the Hebden Bridge Visitors Centre from 1st November to 31st December. Diane WHitehouse is exhibiting her work at the Xpresso Arts Studio Annual Show Although an experienced varifocal wearer, Diane was finding that her varifocal lenses didn’t provide a large enough area for her crafting. She was struggling to focus at the distances her hobbies required for any length of time. As a result, Diane had cut back on it. The more time spent working at mid-distance, the more risks of developing eyestrain and other symptoms similar to those of computer vision syndrome. That’s because while crafting, the eyes remain focused and perfectly aligned at a specific distance for long periods of time. Tiring the eyes much more quickly than reading a magazine or newspaper. Paper, Scissors, Specs Diane explained her vision issues to Claire and she recommended some spectacles designed specifically for intermediate and close-up distances. Frequently referred to as computer or office lenses. Occupational or vocational lenses give the best correction for the distances associated with crafting and many hobbies. Diane Whitehouse will be exhibiting at the Xpresso Arts Studio Annual Show in Hebden Bridge visitors centre Diane took to her new lenses straight away. She found the wider area provided by them to be ideal for her hobbies. She said “Thank you for introducing me to Vocational Lenses. As you know I do a lot of paper crafting, cards and the like. Having a separate pair of glasses with Vocational Lenses has helped enormously with this hobby. Indeed with any close and short distance work. So much so that I have expanded my interests into painting and have my first exhibition exposure in Hebden Bridge in November. Thank you for helping me cope with this new interest which gives me so much pleasure.” The team at Allegro Optical know all about speciality eyewear — spectacle lenses designed specifically for certain tasks — You could say it’s our speciality!  So if you’re struggling with certain tasks and your varifocals aren’t quite suitable for the job in hand give us a call on 01484 907090 and chat to one of our team.
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About Allegro News

Not just a DO – Allegro Optical in Meltham feature in National Campaign by the Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO)

Allegro Optical in Meltham feature in a National ABDO Campaign

 

Allegro Optical in Meltham is not your run of the mill opticians. With a specialism in musicians and performers eyecare, the small independent has been getting noticed.

As part of their #NotJustaDO campaign, the Association of British Dispensing Opticians have been talking to our co-founder and dispensing optician Sheryl Doe.

The Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO) is running the Not Just a DO Campaign. The aim is to raise the profile of the range of activities carried out by Dispensing Opticians (DOs) and Contact Lens Opticians(CLOs).

Aims of #NotJustaDO

The campaign showcases a different DOs every week talking about their work and specialisms. As well as a guide for the public about what a dispensing optician is and what they do.

ABDO Head of Communications says, “The campaign arose from the feeling that DOs can be undervalued as a member of the practice staff. We would love the wider professions to understand the full benefits of having a DO on your team.”

Read what Sheryl has to say about combining music and optics here.

Why we are different

Allegro Optical became the first and only opticians to gain BAPAM registration, providing optical care in partnership with the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine.Allegro Optical in Meltham near Holmfirth, Huddersfield and Saddleworth feature in national campaign by association of British Dispensing Opticians

Sheryl was a finalist in the prestigious Opticians Awards Dispensing Opticians of the Year awards. She also won the National Best New Business Awards, Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

In addition to providing professional and affordable eyecare to the local community of Holmfirth, Huddersfield and Saddleworth. The team at Allegro Optical look after performers from across the UK and abroad. Providing specialist care both to this very niche market and the local residents.

To find out more call 01484 907090 or call in and have a chat, and maybe a brew.