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#SeeTheMusic and More – Astigmatism and the performer

Astigmatism and the performing arts professional

Being the UK’s only eye care specialists who work in the performing arts, we understand first-hand how eye disorders and refractive errors can negatively impact a career. This blog series aims to highlight common eye conditions that performers encounter. Musicians, presenters, dancers, camera operators, sound technicians and singers are just some of the performing arts professionals we’ve assisted to see the music.

Most vision problems can be attributed to refractive errors. Over 61 percent of people in the UK have some sort of vision problem that requires corrective action. Over 10 percent use contact lenses regularly, and more than half wear glasses. 

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. 

Astigmatism: An overview 

Astigmatism can pose a major concern for some performing arts professionals. This article explores how performers can cope with Astigmatism and how it may be managed and treated. Astigmatic refractive disorders can have career-limiting consequences. Some conditions, such as keratoconus result in severe astigmatism which can distort a performer’s vision and sometimes leads to musculoskeletal problems.

Astigmatism can pose many challenges for performers, presenters, and musicians. Furthermore, the shape-changing nature of the condition not only presents a variety of challenges but also presents numerous obstacles. 

What is astigmatism?

The first step to understanding astigmatism is to understand how the normal (non-astigmatic) eye works so that you can see clearly. As light enters the eye two of the eye’s most powerful structures bend the light rays onto the retina. The clear outer covering of the eye called the Cornea bends light rays before they pass further into the eye through the pupil. Next, the crystalline lens bends the light rays some more so that all the light rays come together (converge) to form a perfect focal point on the retina.

Astigmatism is a common refractive error that affects nearly two thirds of the population. Those with astigmatism have corneas that aren’t perfectly round. As a result of the Cornea’s non-symmetrical shape, light rays converge to more than one focal point. This can lead to blurred vision both up close and at a distance due to multiple focal points formed by light rays. There are five different types of astigmatism and it is possible to have both astigmatism and other refractive errors.

With all types of astigmatism light rays come together to form not one but two focal points. The mere fact that there are two focal points formed, instead of just one (in the normal seeing eye) creates vision problems.

The big 5

First Type – simple myopic astigmatism

Simple myopic astigmatism is characterised by light arriving at two focal points: one on the retina, one before it.

Second Type – simple hyperopic astigmatism

Second, simple hyperopic astigmatism has two focal points: one on the retina and the other behind the retina that would be a virtual point.

Third Type- Compound Myopic Astigmatism

The third is compound myopic astigmatism, which occurs when light meets two focal points, both before the retina, but at different locations before the retina.

Fourth Type – Compound Hyperopic Astigmatism

As Probably as you guessed, the fourth type of astigmatism is called compound hyperopia, which means that light strikes two focal points at once, both in a virtual location behind the retina.

Fifth Type

In the fifth type of astigmatism, light is directed to two focal points, one of which is in front of the retina, the other at a virtual position behind.

#SeeTheMusic and more

Astigmatism is a shape-changing refractive disorder. Images appear stretched or sometimes have an unusual orientation. Some symptoms include:

  • Vision that is blurry or distorted
  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches
  • Night vision problems

Many people are born with Astigmatism, but experts don’t know why, although it does seem to be hereditary. The condition can also be caused by an eye injury, an eye disease, or surgery.

A condition called keratoconus can sometimes cause astigmatism by thinning and changing the shape of the clear front part of the eye (the cornea). Contact lenses will probably be needed often to wear at the same time as glasses.

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.
  • Vision fixation: The ability to read sheet music, regardless of how fast its tempo.
  • 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.
  • 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 Astigmatism


Astigmatism presents unique challenges when wearing spectacles due to the changes of orientation and image size and shape. Astigmatism is most commonly corrected by corrective spectacle lenses, which are curved to counteract the shape of the cornea or lens that’s causing blurred vision. If you look directly ahead, they are effective. Depending on how much correction you need, they might make the floor or walls look tilted. 

This effect should go away as you get used to them. If you have severe astigmatism, it might take a week or so. Start by wearing the glasses first thing in the morning, for a few hours at a time, and adjusting slowly. If your vision doesn’t get better, go back and see your optometrist and dispensing optician.

Contact lenses

You can also use contact lenses, but you’ll likely need toric contacts. You will still need prescription spectacles as you need to rest your eyes a couple of days a week. Over wearing contact lenses can cause more problems than it solves. 

If you blink, all contact lenses will rotate. The soft toric lenses used for astigmatism are designed to return to the same spot each time.

If your astigmatism is severe, rigid gas-permeable contact lenses (RGP) can often provide a better correction. However, they are not as comfortable as the soft toric contact lenses and it takes time to build up your wear time.

Laser eye surgery

It is slightly more difficult to perform laser eye surgery to treat astigmatism than to treat myopia or hyperopia. This is because astigmatism requires correction in more than one place in the eye, due to the irregular curvature of the cornea or lens. Even so, it remains a relatively straightforward procedure that has a high success rate. In fact, it is thought that up to 90% of patients achieve 2020 vision, depending on the type of surgery they have.

In general terms laser eye surgery to correct astigmatism is divided into two types:

The laser epithelial keratomileusis (LASEK) procedure is similar to PRK, but involves softening the cornea with alcohol to remove a flap of tissue and reposition it afterward, and changing the shape of the cornea with a laser.

Laser in situ keratoplasty (LASIK) – this procedure is similar to LASEK, but the corneal flap is smaller. When it comes to treating hyperopia that is related to corneal contour, LASIK is quite effective. Most LASIK patients achieve a vision of 6/12 or better, which means they will no longer need glasses or contact lenses to see clearly on a daily basis. But you may still need help with sight reading. The likelihood of LASIK success has increased due to the development of wavefront scanning technology, so today’s LASIK patient can expect even better results.

The majority of these procedures are performed in an outpatient setting. The local anaesthesia numbs your eyes while the procedure is performed, which usually takes less than 30 minutes

LASIK and LASEK are typically the preferred methods owing to their painless nature, and because you can usually see again within a few hours or days after the procedure. As a word of caution, it can sometimes take up to a month for vision to stabilise.

Lens implant surgery

Lens implants are another option for treating hyperopia. A small incision is made in the cornea to implant an artificial lens into your eye to focus light more clearly onto the retina.

This procedure is suitable for those with extreme hyperopia or who struggle to wear glasses or contact lenses. Lens implants fall into two categories:

Phakic implants replace your natural lens without removing your natural eye lens; they are usually preferred by younger people with a normal natural vision for reading

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

It is typically done under local anaesthesia, and the procedure can usually be done the same day. The procedure is usually done separately for each eye.

In Summary

These treatments are beneficial to both performers and amateurs. They all, however, have limitations and side effects. As performers ourselves our unique perspective enables us to offer balanced, impartial advice.

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;


Poor eye sight and posture

Posture and Eye Sight

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

From the Eyes to the Brain

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

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

From the brain to the spine

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

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

But what if the eyes can’t see clearly

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

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

When one piece of the puzzle fails

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

•    Blurred vision, difficulty focusing and even dry sore eyes

•    Fatigue or eye strain

•    Headaches or head pressure

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

•    Numbness and muscle weakness caused by decreased circulation

•    Spinal or neck misalignment

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

Improving performance

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

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

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

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

•    How often your symptoms occur

•    How severe your symptoms are

•    Where you feel pain, pressure, or discomfort

•    The time of day when symptoms occur

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

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

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


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

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

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

Making Music

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

Glasses and how I #SeeTheMusic

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

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

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


The importance of prolonging playing careers

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

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



In conversation Cory Band Euphonium player Glyn Williams

Glyn Williams talks to Stephen Tighe 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Symphony Hall Photo?

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of Glyn in new specs in band uniform

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

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

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

Helping musicians to #SeeTheMusic

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

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

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

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


To find out more about Allegro Optical, the musicians opticians go to;

Alternatively call Greenfield 01457 353100 or Meltham 01484 907090  


62% of Musicians need glasses to see the music

According to a Dutch study 

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

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

Performing Arts Eye-Care

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

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

Fast Forward

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

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

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

Music through a lens

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

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

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

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

Seeing is believing

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

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

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

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

Why do musicians visit Allegro Optical?

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

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

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

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

Music News

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

Bob Hallett Eb Bass

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

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

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

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

Looking for a solution

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

The Exam

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

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

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

It’s all in the lenses

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

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

Perfectly Framed

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

The verdict

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

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

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

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

Why do musicians come to Allegro Optical?

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

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

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

Award-winning eye-care

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

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

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

About Allegro Music News

Vision is now music to Alice’s eyes and ears

Cornet player Alice Bell wears Musicians Glasses

A musical maths teacher’s vision is now music to her eyes and ears

In today’s ever-changing world, many of us now have various visual requirements. A decade ago most presbyopes chose a pair of progressive lenses, (varifocals), as a good all-round solution to their visual needs. But as our use of electronic devices increases, it can be advantageous to have multiple pairs of spectacles,  in order to operate effectively.  Maths teacher Alice Bell is no exception. But with the introduction of mask-wearing and social distancing in schools, Alice was becoming increasingly frustrated. Like many teachers, lecturers and those who deliver presentations, Alice was experiencing issues with her varying working and visual distances. Many teachers have an additional pair of reading glasses for near concentrated visual tasks, such as marking students’ work. These provide a full field of vision at that specific distance. However, within the classroom, this is not a suitable solution.  School techers screen use and working distances

A visually demanding environment

Alice came to Allegro Optical through her music-making connections, she plays the Cornet for the Besses Boys Band. Having been struggling to read the music on her stand prior to lockdown, the new social distancing requirements were making visual tasks problematic at work.  In the classroom teachers spend most of their time standing, looking and walking around. Before the COVID 19 pandemic teachers would lean over their students to check their work. Now they view the work from a safer distance, maintaining social distancing. This was a challenge for Alice who is a high myope. Like all teachers, Alice is required to write on the board and supervise her students across the classroom. Therefore a good distance and near correction is often essential, as well as a variety of intermediate distances as Alice is also presbyopic.

An educators problem

For Alice’s lesson preparation, intermediate and near correction is required, but as a myope, Alice also needs a distance correction. While varifocal lenses are often the first consideration for many teachers, the social distancing requirements have highlighted the increasing need for occupational progressives in the classroom. Occupational progressive lenses complement the use of normal varifocals as they are designed specifically for the working environment.  School teachers working distancesOccupational lenses could almost be described as the reverse of a conventional varifocal lens. The distance vision has a considerably reduced depth of field, usually between 4 and 6 metres. Whereas the intermediate and reading zones are designed to give a wider optimum visual field. Occupational lenses provide the ideal pair of spectacles for the work environment. They can be interchanged with normal varifocal lenses depending on the individual’s needs. Alice measured her classroom and the distance of her computers from her teaching position.

A solution to an educators problem

We prescribed and designed an occupational pair of lenses that would allow Alice to see clearly throughout her entire working day. The lenses enable Alice to see at all the working distances required of her profession. The lens surfacing technology combines complex curves on both the front and back surfaces of Alice’s lenses. By utilising the dioptric power of the lenses complex curves on both surfaces of the lens, we are able to offer vision correction which is completely unique for everyone. Digital surfacing provides better optics, improved cosmetics, wider near and distance zones. Most importantly, it provided Alice with a much more natural view of her world. The unique, continuously changing curves of Alice’s lens surfaces also provides her with improved peripheral vision within her working environment. Digital lens processing is one of the most significant and exciting technological developments our industry has seen in recent years. It has dramatically improved the visual field offered over and above the limitations presented by conventional varifocals. 

Time for a little bit of styling

As Alice has a high myopic prescription we thinned her lenses. We also chose a frame that would present the lenses in their best possible form. Alice opted for a pair of varifocal lenses and a pair of occupational lenses. She chose the same Dutz frame for each pair but in different colours. Dutz DZ2240 35 Dutz DZ2240 46 The design of the frame presents Alice’s prescription in the best possible way, hiding the edge thickness while fitting her perfectly. The frames shape and colours perfectly compliment her facial features and colouring. Dutz is a Dutch eyewear brand that specialises in the production of high-quality handmade frames. By designing their own frames they can control the entire production process, from design to the manufacture of all the components. This results in a high-quality collection of frames that are comfortable and look and feel good on any face. By using allergy-friendly and solid stainless steel materials, Dutz’s achieve durability, comfort and style.

A clear result

Cornet Player Alice Bell wears Dutz Cornet Player Alice Bell wears Dutz When she collected her new glasses Alice was delighted with them. She commented that she was unaware that occupational lenses were able to provide such a workable solution for professions such as her own. When we asked Alice a few weeks later how she was getting along with her glasses she said; “My glasses have been even better than I imagined. I can really tell the difference between the “inside” and “outside” glasses and hadn’t realised what a simple solution this could be. The “indoor” glasses have made my working life so much easier.  Not having to enlarge documents on the computer anymore but still being able to see what the students have written on their little whiteboard makes me happy every day! I’m sure my students are also delighted that they no longer have to listen to me saying “I can’t really read that …. wait a minute while I try and make that bigger so I can see it properly”. One other real benefit is being able to read gin bottle labels from a distance, so I can now choose from all the different varieties when I’m in a bar.” 

A multi-award-winning approach

So successful has Allegro Optical been in helping clients to achieve optimum quality of vision that in 2020 we were awarded the SME News West Yorkshire’s Most Trusted Family Run Eye Care Clinic. In 2019 we scooped no less than five national and regional awards. These awards include 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 Yearand the company has been featured in many national publications including The Times 4BarsRest, The British Bandsman and Music Teacher Magazine. Sheryl has recently been named as a judge in this years SME National Business Awards Are you are a musician who is struggling with their vision? Is making music is no longer the enjoyable experience it once was? If so call us at either Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090.
About Allegro Music News

Harp-y to help Joan see the music and more

Harpist Joan wears musicians glasses when playing her harp

Harpist Joan’s journey to see the music

After twelve months of rising COVID19 cases and over 100,000 COVID19 deaths, many of us are hoping we are now seeing a return to some normality. It has been a strange year at Allegro Optical. Particularly as millions of people all over the country began working from home. Millions more, including most of those working in the performing arts, were furloughed. The Musicians’ Optician switched from performing arts eye care to providing emergency care as the country was plunged into lockdown. Since then we have seen a reemergence with increasing social distancing measures. The introduction of a tier system across the UK and then another national lockdown. One major difference between the first and latest lockdown was the ongoing advice given in May 2020. That everyone continues their routine healthcare appointments.   Many performers, particularly amateurs, are yet to return to the rehearsal room and the stage. But many are practising at home. We are beginning to see a steady return of our performing arts clients, one, in particular, is Harpist Joan Dearnley.  Harpist Joan Deanley could see the music but not the dymnamics and accidentals

Essential eyecare

Joan visited Allegro Optical in early October as she was having problems with her near vision in her right eye. Increasingly Joan was experiencing eye strain, she was struggling to shift her focus from an intermediate distance to near. General reading and computer work were becoming problematic. Joan also found that when playing her harp she could read the music but not accidentals and dynamic markings. Even though Joan was only playing in the comfort of her own home things were becoming challenging.  A low Myope with moderate astigmatism Joan is also presbyopic and relies on progressive lenses for her everyday tasks and playing. After a detailed consultation with Bapam Registered Optometrist, Amy Ogden, Amy found that Joan has early cataracts in both eyes and as a result a small prescription change. Having calculated a prescription for everyday use and for making music Amy and Dispensing Optician Sheryl Doe set about designing a pair of lenses for Joan to play in. 

What’s so different about correcting a Harpists vision?

On the page harp music looks very similar to piano music, however, there are differences. Like all sheet music, Joan needs to see the sheet music on her music stand including the accidentals, and dynamics but she also needs to see the fingering instructions.  As expected Sheryl and Amy opted for the Arpista lens for the left eye and a Fagotto CR lens for the right. The Arpista or Harpist’s lenses have an outward set near vision area to enable harpists to see their top strings easily while still being able to see the sheet music on the stand and the conductor.  It was necessary to calculate Joan’s ocular dominance, as we were asking Joan’s two eyes to work differently when performing different tasks. This is something we do frequently, to allow performers to carry out the many visual tasks required by their craft. When Joan collected her new glasses she was pleased to find that the music on the stand was much clearer. 

Something for everyday

Joan used her new musician’s glasses for four months and was so pleased with them she contacted us in February to order a pair of progressive lenses, (varifocals), for her everyday tasks. Joan had seen a frame when she visited in October and we had her measurements on record. It was pretty straightforward to produce these spectacles for Joan and she was delighted with the result when she collected them. 

From the Harpist’s mouth

When asked about her experience with Allegro Optical and her new glasses she said; “The near sight in my right eye began to deteriorate in January last year. For the first time ever I couldn’t read my harp music, see the bass strings (or anything else in close range) without getting quite severe eye strain. My local optician prescribed varifocals, which really didn’t help – especially for reading music, which has to be a ‘harp length’ away.  “By mid-October, when I contacted Allegro Opticians. I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever be able to cope with reading harp easily music again. My first specialist appointment (2 hours I think) became almost a whole afternoon; Sheryl and Amy, with endless patience, took time to test my sight. They measured the distance from me to my music stand and Harp strings. Taking in further distances for looking at a conductor or other players. Most importantly Sheryl and Amy understand the special needs musicians have when reading music. They understand our need to look from instrument to conductor, back to the music, and so on. By the end of the afternoon, I was looking forward to getting not just one pair of harp music-reading specs. But also a pair of half-frames for reading piano music (which I find are equally useful when using my laptop). Also, to my great surprise in a style of red and blue frame, I would never have thought I’d like.  “For any harpists struggling to read the music and see their harp strings I can’t recommend Allegro highly enough”. Harpist Joan Dearnley new glasses from Allegro Optical, the musicians' optician 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 ‘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 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

So successful has Allegro Optical been in helping performers in 2019 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‘. In 2020 SME News awarded Allegro Optical the accolade of West Yorkshire’s Most Trusted Family Run Eye Care Clinic, 2020. The company has been featured in many national publications including The Times 4BarsRest, The British Bandsman and Music Teacher Magazine. Sheryl has recently been named as a judge in this years SME National Business Awards Are you are a musician who is struggling with their vision? Is making music is no longer the enjoyable experience it once was? If so call us at either Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090.
About Allegro Music News

Optometrist Amy’s BAPAM registration is instrumental in helping musicians to see the music

Allegro Optical Bapam practitioner

As a BAPAM accredited practitioner, Amy is helping musicians to see the music

We are delighted to share with you the fantastic news that Optometrist Amy Ogden is now a registered practitioner with the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM). BAPAM is an umbrella organisation for performing arts medicine, which was established at the Royal Free Hospital in London in 1984 by the late Ian James, a consultant pharmacologist with a particular interest in musician’s health and well being. The research trust which Ian James founded grew into what is now the charity BAPAM. In turn, this has grown to serve all performers including musicians, actors and dancers. We have also extended its range of services.

Allegro Optical became the first Optician in the country to gain BAPAM registration in August 2018 and we are overjoyed that Amy has succeeded in gaining her accreditation. Being both a flautist and an optometrist Amy has an avid interest in the eye, vision and music. In particular how eye disorders and disease affect a musicians ability to play and perform.

                                        Amy Ogden

Saddleworth optometrist Bapam registered practitioner for musicians eye test

Amy started in her role of Optometrist with Allegro Optical in November and here she has shared an overview of her role with us below. “My role at Allegro is extremely varied, which is one of the reasons why I adore working here. As an Optometrist, in my daily role, I carry out refractions ( checking the prescription). In addition, I  check eye health using a range of techniques. Using procedures from volk, direct ophthalmoscopy, fundus photography. I also use our 3D OCT scanning and visual field screener to check peripheral vision. I also carry out colourimetry and overlay assessments to help those who suffer from visual stress. Working with Sheryl opened up a whole new role for me. Especially as I have been able to combine my love of music and my passion for optometry”.

Vision and music-making

“I have seen first hand how musicians begin to struggle when they hit the presbyopic stage of their lives ( the stage when they begin to need spectacle corrections for reading). It can have dramatic effects on their sound quality. Especially as they tilt their head to see the music- affecting their airways. This can lead to missed notes due to poor vision.  Many struggle to see the conductor or fellow players due to wearing a near correction. I wanted to help find a solution to this. To be able to provide one pair of glasses for a musician, so they are able to see all the required distances. Working with Sheryl has allowed me to help play a vital part in this process. We have been successfully helping musicians to see the music together since I started as a resident Optometrist here in November. 

“Gaining registration with BAPAM is so important to me. It enables musicians to find us easier, and be aware there is a solution to their problem. I am so excited to see what the future holds for us at Allegro and to see how many other musicians we can help”.

A Specialist Musician’s Optician

At Allegro Optical we provide consultations at our practices in Greenfield, Saddleworth and Meltham, Holmfirth. We also offer a peripatetic service which can visit all the major musical institutions.  We can provide onsite optical solutions to all ensemble members. As musicians ourselves, we’re able to ask the right questions. We can also interpret the answers to create a truly unique pair of lenses. Using our combined optical and musical skills we are able to address and resolve the many visual problems encountered by musicians and performers.

Allegro Optical specialises in all aspects of a musician’s vision correction. We aim to return and enhance musicians playing pleasure and performance experience.  The team has over 150 combined years’ experience in the optics and entertainment industry. Whether you want advice or a practical solution call Allegro Optical in Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090 or visit

About Allegro Music News

A bit of a coincidence, all strings considered.

Coincidences do happen

Life is full of coincidences but can you imagine my surprise when I answered a phone call from a fellow cellist who shared not only a love of my favourite instrument but also my name and star sign. Following an internet search Cellist, Cheryl Hale contacted Allegro Optical in December 2019. She was experiencing problems seeing the music on her stand. Especially chords, accidentals and divisi parts, particularly in the case of older music and orchestral parts. As a cellist myself I understand entirely Cheryl’s frustrations. In situations such as this seeing the music becomes more of a challenge than actually playing it.

Music teacher Cheryl, who also plays the Harp, Piano and Recorder, travelled from Hertfordshire for her consultation bringing her fabulous instrument with her. Following a detailed eye examination with Optometrist (and flautist) Amy Ogden it was found that Cheryl needed a good prescription range as she plays at multiple distances. Cheryl needs a myopic correction, but the effects of presbyopia were causing problems at the nearer distances. As she explained on the phone varifocals failed to correct Cheryl’s vision at music stand distance. Especially as the stand is offset to one side. This means Cheryl is unable to look through the correct part of her varifocal to see the music clearly when playing.

Cellist Cheryl Hale buys her specialist Musicians glasses from Allegro Optical the musician's optician in Saddleworth and Meltham

A feast forza eyes

Following Cheryl’s consultation with Amy, I joined them to design a lens which would allow Cheryl to view her music clearly from the side. First Cheryl chose her frame. She settled on the rimless silhouette 5226 frame with a pretty feminine shape to compliment her facial features. The frame is perfect as being rimless it allows her to see the neck and fingerboard of the Cello unencumbered. It also provides a wide enough field to see her sheet music on the stand. I dispensed our new wider field Fogotto PL lenses but added an anamorphic component to the lens design to widen her field of view further. The term anamorphic means ”formed again” and is of Greek origin. This anamorphic component enables us to expand Cheryl’s lateral vision.

We also incorporated some prism into the lenses to help with fixation and fatigue. This is especially useful when playing for long periods of time. Cheryl’s lenses are manufactured from a 1.6 high index optical resin. The resin provides durability with minimal weight as she often plays for hours at a time. The last thing Cheryl needs is a heavy pair of spectacles weighing on her nose. 

Once fitted with her new glasses, a few weeks later Cheryl was utterly amazed by the clarity her new lenses provided. “Absolutely amazing!!!” She said; “I can’t believe the difference with your lenses. Everything is so clear and large. I really can see every single note. Thank you so much.”

Cellist Cheryl Hale buys her specialist Musicians glasses from Allegro Optical the musician's optician in Saddleworth and Meltham

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 ‘Musician’s 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 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.  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.