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What will you be doing this National Eye Health Week?

Fin in trial frame small

With National Eye Health Week this month, we ask why we should look after our eyes.

Many people fear losing their vision but take very little care of their eyes. Changing this is the goal of National Eye Health Week. It’s common knowledge that eye health is important, but sometimes we need a little nudge to take action. The National Eye Health Week is the perfect opportunity to do just that. This year it runs from 20th – 26th  September. A timely reminder that our eyesight needs to be checked frequently. That means regular eye examinations.

Nearly 2 million people in the UK have severe sight loss, which can significantly affect their daily lives. Half of these people’s sight loss was avoidable. People fear losing their sight more than any other sense, yet many people fail to take care of their eye health – National Eye Health Week aims to change this!

How do I know if I need an eye test?

Our eyes should be tested every two years according to the NHS. When you haven’t had an eye exam in the last two years, pick up the phone and book an eye examination as soon as possible.

In some cases, eye tests are required more frequently. There are certain groups of people who are more likely to develop eye conditions, based on their family history and lifestyle. However, everyone needs to get regular eye exams.

In fact how about doing this eye health calculator to see your risks http://www.visionmatters.org.uk/looking-after-your-eyes/eye-health-calculator

When an eye exam is conducted, glaucoma and other eye conditions such as cataracts can be detected and treated. In fact, an optical coherence tomography scan (commonly referred to as an OCT scan)  can detect some eye conditions up to 4 years earlier. In addition to diabetes and high blood pressure, other health conditions may also be detected in an eye examination.

How to enjoy healthy eyes

We rarely consider the health of our eyes when we think about eating well, exercising, and our overall well-being. Our diet, exercise habits, and alcohol consumption all affect the health of our eyes. Colourful vegetables, leafy greens, eggs, and Omega-3 fatty acids all help the eyes. For healthy eyes, antioxidants, especially lutein, are essential.

Exercise is important, especially at an older age, as it may reduce the risk of blindness caused by conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure. Smoking poses one of the greatest health risks. After ageing, it is the leading risk factor in developing macular degeneration.

Walking in sunshine

Our eyes can be damaged by the sun, so we must protect them as much as possible. In bright weather and on the ski slopes, wear sunglasses that are branded with the CE mark – this guarantees the correct level of ultraviolet protection.

Do the right thing

If you want to keep your eyes healthy, you should eat healthily, avoid smoking, and wear protective eyewear when the sun is bright. 

Good vision is crucial to a person’s well-being, independent living, and overall quality of life. During this week, charities, health professionals, and organisations across the UK will work together.  Promoting eye health and the importance of regular exams.

Don’t leave it to chance

As part of our routine eye exams, Allegro Optical looks for changes in your vision, as well as signs of cataracts and glaucoma and more serious health conditions like diabetes. If you have a particular concern our Advanced Optometry is perfect for you. Both our routine eye examinations and our Advanced Optometry are performed by our experienced and friendly team of optometrists and typically take between 45 minutes and an hour. 

To book your Allegro Optical eye examination, please call us in Greenfield, Saddleworth on 01457 353100 of in Meltham, Holmfirth on 01484 709070 book your appointment online or pop into your nearest branch today

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About Allegro Music News

The Times They Are a-Changin’ as Elizabeth Holmes joins the Allegro Optical Optometry team

Liz H Optometrist Allegro Optical the musicians optician with OCT in Meltham

Elizabeth Holmes joins the Allegro Optical team

As Bob Dylan famously sang, “The Times They Are a-Changin’” and that is certainly true here at the Musicians’ Optician. No one could deny what a turbulent few months we’ve all experienced. The team has kept incredibly busy throughout the pandemic. As a result, we have needed more hands to the pump as Allegro Optical continues to grow. 

The team continues to grow

We are thrilled to welcome our new Optometrist, Elizabeth Holmes, to join our optometry team. Elizabeth graduated from the University of Bradford, in 2008. She then worked as an optometrist in Bradford, Girlington, Otley and Ilkley. Elizabeth later became the resident Optometrist at Tunnacliffe and Lambert Opticians in Bradford and Farsley.

Elizabeth has completed the  Certificate in Glaucoma from The College of Optometrists, allowing her to manage stable glaucoma patients care in the community. She has also gained higher professional qualifications in Minor Eye Conditions allowing her to participate in both the local PEARS (Primary emergency acute referral service) in Meltham and the CUES (Community Urgent Eyecare Service) in Greenfield. Elizabeth is now working towards her BAPAM (British Association for Performing Arts Medicine) accreditation. Allegro Optical is the first and only optician in the UK to become registered practitioners of the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM).

More than meets the eye

In her spare time, like the rest of the Allegro Optical team, Elizabeth loves to make music. She is a talented Pianist and Clarinetist and she has taken advanced clarinet lessons at the Royal Northern College of Music. Elizabeth was a member of the City of Hull Youth Symphonic Windband before going to university. While studying for her optometry degree  Elizabeth was the Principal Clarinettist in the University of Bradford Symphony Orchestra. In addition to her orchestral commitments, Elizabeth and her husband were part of a band that played for events and weddings.

When not at work or making music Elizabeth enjoys swimming, Pilates, aerobic style exercise to keep fit and gardening. 

Elizabeth is registered with:

  • General Optical Council (GOC)
  • Association of Optometrists (AOP)
  • Ophthalmic Performers list OPL
  • National Health Service (NHS)

Elizabeth will be initially offering appointments on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and some Saturdays. If you require an appointment with Elizabeth just give us a call. Alternatively, Sara, Gemma and Elizabeth C are all still available to conduct your eye examination.

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We are open as normal in Tier 4 (Greenfield) and Tier 3 (Meltham)

Allegro Optical Staff in PPE masks
Following today’s COVID-19 review the Government has confirmed that “As health care providers and essential businesses with safe and appropriate Infection Prevention and Control measures already in place, community optometry practices are exempt from the protection measures in all tiers and can therefore remain open and provide a full range of services”. This means we will remain open and operating as planned into the new year despite Oldham’s move to Tier 4. There are some restrictions on travelling into Tier 4 areas for those in other areas who may live in lower tiers. Travel from other areas is allowed for necessary medical treatment so if you feel that your eyecare concerns are essential, then please call us to arrange an appointment. If you feel your eyecare can wait and you are not having any problems it’s best to put it off until restrictions are eased. If you have an appointment booked and you feel it’s better for you not to attend, please do let us know as soon as you can. We are still extremely busy catching up with overdue appointments, and there is currently a long waiting list. So if there is no problem or if you’d prefer not to come for whatever reason right now – we will have no trouble filling your appointment.

Routine appointments are allowed

Since the middle of June, we have resumed the provision of routine eye care, following General Optical Council and the College of Optometrists guidance. In November we began to recall those clients who would have been seen routinely in the period we had been operating a limited service. Clearing the backlog is well underway, however, we expect it to be well into the New Year before we have fully caught up. The social distancing rules and additional hygiene measures mean that we are unable to see as many people in a clinic as we used to. If your recall is due now, there may still be some delay until our backlog has been cleared, although you can always contact us if you are having a more urgent problem and require an appointment.

What to expect when you visit 

We already have rigorous hygiene standards in place as outlined by our governing bodies and the Government. Please feel reassured that we are taking all the precautions we can to safeguard our clients and staff. Prior to visiting, we will send you a text with details regarding what you can expect when you visit. One of our team will call you the day before your appointment and conduct a pre-appointment COVID -19 symptom check. We are operating a locked door policy, so when you arrive please ring the bell and a member of the team will let you in. With a strict capacity policy, we are limiting the number of clients in practice at any time. Please do not arrive early or late for your appointment. If you would rather wait outside or in your car until you can be seen, please come to the main door a couple of minutes before your appointed time.  A member of the team will record your temperature on arrival and ask some questions, they will then check your current glasses (if you wear them) and record the prescription so that our optometrists can tell you if your prescription has changed or if it is stable. Our optometrists will conduct your eye examination wearing full PPE, including surgical scrubs, aprons, gloves, masks and when appropriate visors or eye protection. The test room is thoroughly cleaned between appointments and all equipment sterilised.  We appreciate some patients have unique requirements, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you require any further information.

Dispensing of glasses

Using appropriate PPE our Dispensing Opticians we are able to dispense, fit and repair glasses as normal. Our full frame selection is available to view and a member of our team will be on hand to assist you. All frames once handled are cleaned and sterilised before being put back on display. Our normal lab service is still running so just give us a call if you need any adjustments or some new frames.

Emergency and essential eye care

These clients will continue to be prioritised. Emergency and essential eye care include:
  1. Clients we have continued to treat throughout the pandemic.
  1. Clients we consider to be emergencies such as those who have specific issues have experienced a change to their vision or those that we feel require urgent investigation.
  2. Clients who under normal circumstances would not normally be considered to be emergencies, but where, in our view, a delay in an examination may be detrimental to sight or wellbeing (called ‘essential care’).
  3. Clients who were due to be seen during the period of lockdown for a review of a specific issue (not a routine check-up) In our view reviewing an ongoing condition is ‘essential’.
  4. Clients with any other issues classed as an ‘essential situation’. Particularly if they have lost or broken their glasses or contact lenses and require a replacement to function.
Many of these clients will have been already contacted and booked in. If we haven’t contacted you already to make an appointment but you feel you fall into one of these categories, please call or message us through our website, and we can advise whether we are able to see you. In addition, if you have any new concerns and think you would benefit from being seen, please get in touch. You can email us on info@allegrooptical.co.uk  or call us in Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090 We appreciate the loyalty of our patients, now more than ever. And we pass on our very best wishes to all our clients at this difficult time and hope to see you back in the practice soon. 
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PPE explained – Ozone in the ‘Zone’

Allegro Covid-19-response - o zone generators

Why we are investing in client safety

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease has impacted all our lives. First appearing in China in December 2019, coronavirus has spread rapidly across the globe. No disease in recent times has impacted public health and the economy more rapidly and in such a dramatic way than coronavirus. 

Allegro Optical Coronavirus (COVID-19) Statement

In the UK, although slowly emerging from lockdown, we are still adhering to the strict guidelines laid down by the government. Our social and working lives, in the space of three short months, changed completely. We are now very aware of what we touch, of washing our hands and maintaining a safe social distance.

What we are doing

The big question for us as practitioners has been how do we keep all our clients safe when visiting us. We’ve socially distanced both practices, implemented one-way systems, installed perspex screens and operate an appointment only admission policy. All our team members are wearing full PPE including changing into surgical scrubs when they arrive at work to maintain the highest possible hygiene standards. They also wear N95 respirators at all times and change surgical gloves and aprons in between each appointment for your protection. 

We’re very sorry, but at the current time we are discouraging browsing unless a member of staff has supervised client hand sanitising and provided a pair of gloves, (in return for a charitable donation). Face masks must be worn and a member of our team will remove all the frames tried, clean them and put them through a 

UV sanitiser before they are put back on display. The whole area is then sanitised before we can admit the next client, so a strict appointment policy is followed.

What about opening a window? Is that safe?

Opening a window doesn’t really help. If someone walks past with the virus and coughs while you’re stood by the window? Oh dear! Fresh air is a good thing, but just how fresh is it? While it’s always good to maintain a fresh home and air circulation is important just what is the science behind it? 

A 2009 World Health Organization report on illness transmission and air ventilation suggested that people expel microscopic droplets of saliva not only when coughing and sneezing, but also while talking and exhaling. When expelled, these droplets can quickly evaporate, leaving behind nearly weightless airborne particles which can house illness-causing pathogens. These pathogens can ride on the airflow created when a person opens or closes a window or a door. While the likelihood of these airborne particles making someone sick is uncertain, it may vary from one pathogen to the next. 

What are Ozone Generators and why we have installed them

As a further precaution, we have installed ozone generators in both of our practices. Many decontamination specialists use ozone equipment to deal with airborne contamination. The question many people are asking today is; Can ozone kill coronavirus? Well, according to many studies and the previous use of ozone as part of infection control and virus protection – yes, it does. Like many practitioners, we have installed ozone generators to protect our clients and our team members. All across the world, ozone generators have been installed in hospitals, clinics, dentists surgeries and optical practices. The healthcare sector is applying this measure in the fight against coronavirus. 

How does Ozone work against Coronavirus?

In this blog, we look at some of the scientific evidence that demonstrates the capabilities ozone generation has in the fight against coronavirus. We showcase the benefits of using ozone and take a moment to outline the associated risks of using ozone to combat coronavirus. 

Coronaviruses are classified as enveloped viruses, which means the virus has an outer coat that wraps around the virus particles. The outer coat protects the virus, ensuring its survival and its ability to infect other cells. If this outer shell can be broken down, then coronaviruses the virus inside is destroyed. Ultimately coronaviruses can be broken down when exposed to ozone gases. When the outer shell of the virus is destroyed by ozone gas it’s core is exposed and breaks down. When appropriate levels of ozone are utilised, up to 99% of the viruses can be eliminated.  

Recently Ozone was used successfully in the fight against viruses. In 2003, ozone was used to great effect to combat coronavirus; SARS-Cov-1, which belongs to the same family of viruses as COVID-19. 

Sanitising our homes, workplaces and public spaces is a key tactic in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19. Ozone generators can frequently be seen in many hospitals these days. This is why at Allegro Optical we have invested in state of the set Ozone Generators for all of the public areas of our practices. Because we care about our client’s safety we don’t just open a window.

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About Allegro Music News

Square eyes and sharp notes

#SeeTheMusic #NameThatTune

Do you have square eyes?

“You’ll get square eyes” My Mum would shout, whenever I was late for a meal. Growing up in the late 70s, early 80s, I was one of the first generations of gamers. I spent long periods of time playing space invaders and my personal favourite, Brian Bloodaxe. Many hours were spent learning code and inputting it on to my pride and joy, the ZX Spectrum. I would spend hours in front of the screen often losing track of time. 40 years on and I still spend up to 12 hours in front of a computer screen. Oh and I’ve still not developed square eyes. However, like many of us VDU users, they do occasionally feel tired. With many more people working from home during lockdown we are seeing an increase in clients complaining of eye strain symptoms.

After or during a long day of working at a computer, many of us experience some or all of the following problems;

  • sore, tired or burning eyes
  • watery, itchy or dry eyes
  • blurred, or double vision
  • headaches

These symptoms are often the result of eye strain, which occurs when our eyes get tired from intense use. Fortunately, these symptoms can be eased with a helpful trick known as the 20-20-20 rule:

Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

For every 20 minutes spent using a screen, try to look away at something that is 20 feet away for a total of 20 seconds. Unless you have a tape measure to hand it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to accurately measure 20 feet. Luckily an exact measurement isn’t essential. Just try to focus on something far away. Look out of a window at a distant object, like a tree or a building across the street. 

Sometimes, the easiest way to change the depth of your focus, is to leave your computer or device for a moment and take a short walk. Maybe get a glass of water or just stand up for 20 seconds and have a stretch.

The point is: just get moving! By moving around we can reduce eye strain. It helps to keep us active during an otherwise sedentary period, increasing alertness and leading to higher productivity.

Avoid eyestrain with Allegro Optical the musicians optician in Saddleworth and Holmfirth

#SeeTheMusic

Many musicians who visit us complain that not only is seeing the music a challenge. Often they are experiencing similar symptoms to VDU users when rehearsing or performing. This isn’t surprising, as musicians we fixate on our music on the stand for long periods of time. Just like a digital device user, we stare at our music and we tend to blink less while playing. Musicians in particular often struggle due to their dusty environment. Those who wear contact lenses are particularly prone to dry eyes. Especially if seated close to air conditioning ducts in an orchestra pit.

Eye problems are a commonly overlooked health issue for musicians. The effort our eyes make to read sheet music or follow the conductor while peering around an instrument can lead to a number of common, but treatable, complaints. 

Is your music out of focus

Dry eye and blurred vision

Our musical clients often complain of eyestrain related symptoms. The cause is very similar to that which leads to the very same diagnosis in computer users. Our eyes didn’t evolve to repetitively scan a music score or computer screen at a distance of 60-95cm for long periods of time. Continuous fixation and repetitive scanning can lead to a condition known as “spasms of accommodation.” When our eyes are overworked our ocular muscles can go into spasm and can no longer adjust when we look at something far away. In the musicians’ case, when we look up at the conductor. Everything distant becomes blurry as the muscles tire and lose the ability to focus. 

Fortunately, these symptoms can be eased with a helpful trick known as the 20-20-20 rule:

  • 20-20-20 rule. Just like VDU users we recommend that musicians should try to look away at something that is 20 feet away for a total of 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
  • Lubricate your eyes. A handy and easy trick to avoid dry eye problems is very simple: blink! When concentrating on a piece of music during a rehearsal or performance musicians often forget to blink. The result is that the cornea dries out and the eyes can start to ache. Musicians who wear contact lenses are particularly prone to dry eyes, especially if their seat is close to an air conditioning unit. We would advise using a good lubricant of artificial tears but always check with your optician that the lubricant is compatible with your contact lenses first.
  • Adjust your music stand correctly. The top of your sheet music should ideally be at or just below your eye level to avoid any straining or neck problems. If your stand must be below eye level, try to lower your eyes rather than tilt your head as this can lead to postural problems which can, in turn, affect your sound. 
  • Find an optician who understands

    . As opticians who specialise in musicians eye care, we know that a musician’s eyes are as important as his or her instrument and hands. If you think you have work-related or performance-related eye problems, find an optician who is sensitive to this issue or who has proven experience working with other musicians. Always insist on taking your instrument, music, music stand and clip light to a consultation. This will help the optometrist and dispensing optician can properly understand your working conditions and individual needs. Always insist that your glasses are dispensed by a registered dispensing optician as unlike the optometrists who understand how your eyes work a dispensing optician is a lens expert with extensive expertise in lens design.

Another nasty consequence of eye strain can be ocular migraine, which causes visual disturbances. You should always consult your optician if you experience any form of visual disturbance.

Why do musicians come to Allegro Optical?

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

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

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

Award-winning eye-care

We’ve been pretty successful in helping performers to #SeeTheMusic. In fact, in the last twelve months alone we have scooped no less than five national and regional awards for our work in this field. These awards include the National ‘Best New Arts & Entertainment Business of the Year at a gala event in London. Managing Director Sheryl Doe was awarded the 2019 Dispensing Optician of the Year and she was a finalist in the AOP Dispensing Optician of the year 2020. She has also reached the finals of the  National Business Women’s Awards, for the Business Owner of the Year category.  Allegro Optical’s cutting edge approach to dispensing and their musical experience has led to the team being shortlisted for the prestigious Opticians Awards, Optical Assistant team of the year 2020

During March 2019, Allegro Optical was awarded the Scale-Up Business of the Year, at the regional finals of the Federation of Small Business awards in York. They then went on to receive the FSB Chairman’s award at the national finals in May. Finally winning the FBU Yorkshire family business of the year.

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

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