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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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Music

Guest blog by pianist Norma Wilson

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

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

Wet Macular Degeneration – a musicians perspective.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Norma Wilson

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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/

Categories
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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Glitz, Glam and Huge Knickers by Xanthe Doe

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The festive party season is in full swing and many of us are desperately searching for that perfect dress, shimmering shoes, and beguiling bags. All so we can look absolutely fabulous at the works Christmas party. Plus making sure we don’t eat too many mince pies so we can still fit into our perfect dress…thank god for shapewear underpants!

But no party look would be complete without the perfect eye make-up. This is easier said than done for spectacle wearers, who often find this tricky to get right. Cue me spending an hour going for the smoky eye look and the end result looking more like Tai Shan the panda…but that’s a whole other story.

Whilst many of us will opt for contact lenses on a big night out, others may not be able to wear them or some just prefer to keep their frames on. But there’s absolutely no reason why we should have to sacrifice those glammed up eyes because of your specs!

Here’s some quick and easy party season make-up tricks for gorgeous spectacle wearers:

Here’s some quick and easy party season make-up tricks for gorgeous spectacle wearers:

Going Bronze

Bronze, metallic eyeshadow (my favourite!) is big in the beauty world, and for spec wearers it’s an excellent colour of choice to make your eyes really stand out. Warm metallic and shimmery shades are soft and help to lighten your eye area. The Revlon Nudes palette is a great product for mixing bronze hues, allowing you to create a more intense look that contrasts with your frames.  

Load up on Liner

Eyeliner is a spec wearers’ best friend, creating that wow, stand-out party season eye make-up look. Choose a soft black kohl such as Revlon’s Colorstay Eyeliner to line your eyes along the top and bottom lashes. Keep the line thin on the inner corners. Then  thicken it up as you sweep it across and gently smudge to create that smokey-eyed look. For more intensity, use a thin black liquid liner to outline your lashes on your top lid. Always apply a couple of coats of mascara to your top lashes.

Xanthe winter fashion

 Glamorous Glitter

If you really want real impact, glitter eyeshadow is always guaranteed to make your eyes stand out in your frames. It’s also the perfect festive party season make-up look, and is really easy to create. Whatever shade of shimmer you choose to enhance your eyes, make sure you apply a cream eyeshadow base first before adding the glitter. This helps to keep it in place.

Use a slightly damp brush to apply the glitter, dabbing on bit by bit and using gentle pressure to help it set. Use a touch of Vaseline on a piece of tissue to wipe away any excess glitter.

Xanthe goes glitter

Boost your Brows

Spectacles naturally draw attention to your brows, so make sure yours are well groomed and enhanced to make the right impact. Pluck or trim any stray hairs and use a brow defining product such as Benefit’s Browzings Eyebrow Shaping Kit to fill in any sparse spots. Sweep a light dusting of shimmer powder underneath to define your brow bone and lift your eye area.

Xanthe's brows

 And don’t forget…

  • Since you can’t apply make-up wearing your glasses, use a magnifying mirror to help you see better.
  • Curl your top lashes so they flick upwards and don’t hit your lenses.
  • The thicker your frames, the thicker your eyeliner needs to be to make your eyes stand out.
  • The colour of your eyeshadow shouldn’t compete with the colour of your frames.
  • A good rule of thumb I use when picking eyeshadow colours is to avoid picking colours, you’d find opposite on a colour wheel and swabbing them together on the back of your hand to see if they blend nicely together.

When did you last have an eye examination? If you’re overdue an eye examination why not book one today! Call Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham call 01484 907090

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A spectacular Clarinet and Baritone Duo thanks to Specialist Musicians Glasses

Specialist musicians glasses help a very musical couple

In this blog we look at how Specialist musicians glasses have helped a very talented musical couple. It’s no secret that at Allegro Optical we love music. Music and Optics are our two great passions, and we love meeting people who share our passion. Especially when we get to see them year on year. We take such pleasure in helping fellow musicians, from all walks of life, to continue doing what they love. Making music!  Making music is a wonderful thing and something that many couples love to share. Vivienne and Brian Murphy are no exception to this. Vivienne plays the clarinet and saxophone, while Brian’s instruments are the baritone horn, valved trombone and piano. While Brian has played the piano and baritone horn for some time, he had only recently taken up the valved trombone. The couple began making music together after they had retired and it’s a pastime they thoroughly enjoy. Mastering a new instrument is one thing. However, it is even more difficult when seeing the music on the stand is problematic. 

Understanding the problem

Vivienne and Brian first visited Allegro Optical opticians last year, having heard about our specialism with musicians. Vivienne is an experienced varifocal wearer.  While they were fine for everyday visual tasks, they didn’t provide a good enough field of view when she was playing. Following a comprehensive eye examination, our Optometrist, who has some experience of playing the Saxophone herself, completely understood Vivienne’s predicament and was able to find a prescription to solve her focusing problems. Vivienne then consulted Dispensing Optician Sheryl. Sheryl suggested a pair of varifocal lenses and a pair of specialist musicians glasses for music making. In some cases such as this many optical retailers will try dispensing an occupational lens for musicians. That still wouldn’t address the distances and field width Vivienne needed. Specialist musicians glasses a Godsend for musicians Vivian and Brian Murphy thanks to the musicians optician Allegro Optical DIspensing Optician of the year

The solutions

Sheryl created a completely individual lens design to enable Vivienne to see her music clearly, while still seeing the conductor. The lens design took into account the position of Vivienne’s music stand, her seating positing and the position of her conductor. Creating a clear view at all these distances. Without any of the distortion like that experienced in a varifocal or occupational lens.   While Vivienne was with Sheryl Brian also had an eye examination. Brian also wears varifocals, although he never makes music in them. Having had some neck problems in the past Brian prefered to use single vision lenses when playing his baritone horn. However, that meant that he couldn’t see the conductor very well. Just like Vivienne, we found the perfect prescription for Brian’s working distances. Sheryl created a completely individual lens design to enable him to see his music and the conductor. 

Annual Check

Jump forward twelve months and Brian and Vivienne returned to Allegro Optical for an annual check. It was so nice to catch up and hear about what they are playing and how they are getting along. As musicians ourselves we like to hear what pieces people are working on about any concerts which they may have coming up. While we were chatting we asked Brian and Vivienne how they liked their music glasses. Vivienne said: “These glasses have helped me a lot with my music. I now no longer misread the notes as I did when using my varifocal’s. So they have improved my standard of play.  I also was surprised to find that they are really useful when I use my computer.” Brian added; ” I am very pleased with these glasses.  They are particularly effective when I have to share a music stand in band practice.” Specialist musicians glasses a Godsend for musicians Vivian and Brian Murphy thanks to the musicians optician Allegro Optical DIspensing Optician of the year

Why Allegro Optical?

We are an independent family run business and we are gaining an international reputation for professional excellence and an inventive approach to solving our clients vision problems. Now known internationally as the ‘Musicians Opticians’ as we are attracting many clients from across Europe and further a field. Thanks to our groundbreaking work in the field of performers eye care Allegro Optical have become the first and only opticians to gain registration with the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM). We treat each and every client as an individual simply because they are. No two performers are the same, so why should their vision correction be? At Allegro Optical we enjoy creating unique lenses to meet performers individual needs. As musicians and performers ourselves we can ask the right questions and interpret the answers accordingly.

Award-winning eye-care

Allegro Optical has been so successful 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 she has been shortlisted for the AOP Dispensing Optician of the year 2020. During March Allegro Optical was awarded the ‘Scale-Up Business of the Year‘ at the regional finals of the Federation of Small Business awards in York and went on to receive the FSB Chairman’s award at the national finals in May. Finally winning the FBU Yorkshire family business of the year. Allegro Optical’s unique optical solution and our cutting edge approach to dispensing has led to the group being named finalists in the Huddersfield Examiners Business Awards in the Innovation and Enterprise category. The company has been featured in many national publications including The Times 4BarsRest, The British Bandsman and Music Teacher Magazine. 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.
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A very specific problem for a Trombonist who just wanted to see the music

Graham just wanted to see the music

At Allegro Optical we love helping musicians to see the music and we relish a challenge.  Trombonist Graham Palmer from Wiltshire laid down a very specific challenge for us. Graham told us that he was noticing that the staves on his sheet music were merging into each other. For non musical readers, a stave is a set of five horizontal lines and four spaces used in Western musical notation to represent a different musical pitch. 

Sight reading had become very problematic for Graham as trying to distinguish which line he should be playing was almost impossible. As musicians, we usually enjoy playing a new piece, but this was far from a treat for Graham.

The problem

Graham is presbyopic and mildly astigmatic was wearing the following prescription bifocals;

RE -0.25/-0.75 x 180  Add +2.25

LE 0.00 / -1.25 x 45    Add +2.25  

With single vision glasses for music made up to;

RE +1.00/-0.75 x 180  Add +2.25

LE  +1.25/ -1.25 x 45   

While Graham’s bifocals were fine, unfortunately the music glasses just weren’t working for him. Having found a change in axis in the right eye Optometrist Gemma carried out a fixation disparity test. This was to detect any diplopia, also known as double vision at distance. She also used the Mallett unit to detect any near point convergence issues. None were detected. However when concentrating on the printed music on the stand Graham struggled to maintain the union of the visual axes and fairly quickly used up his fusional reserves. Resulting in the appearance of overlapping staves. To alleviate this problem, Gemma prescribed some vertical prism, helping  Graham to maintain his fixation when reading his music.

The solution

When dispensing lenses for musicians, I always bear in mind that they will be required to look through a central location in the lens to achieve the corrective power required for a particular working distance. This was a challenge for Graham. Because the need for a prismatic element in the lens meant that a conventional lens was out of the question. Graham needs to move his eyes to read his music. He can’t move his head due to the nature of his instrument and the restrictions of his mouthpiece.

The danger of dispensing a conventional lens is that the further off centre the wearer looks, the greater the image displacement. When the wearer looks down from the centre of a “plus” lens, Base Up prismatic effect is induced and the image appears to move downwards. However, when the wearer looks down from the centre of a “minus”, Base Down prismatic effect is induced and the image appears to shift upwards.  This is what was happening when Graham was playing, causing him to experience the focusing problems and partial double vision. 

For this reason I dispensed Graham with a pair of digital freeform lenses. Specifically for music stand distance, incorporating a prismatic element. Graham found the new lenses to be better than the previous pair. He does still have to move his head a little, but his vision is much improved and he can enjoy making music again.  

Trombonist Graham Palmer buys his specialist musicians glasses from Allegro Optical the musicians optician

The verdict

I heard from Graham a few weeks after he had received his new glasses and he said; “Simply put without Optical Allegro I would have had to stop playing. Two pairs of music glasses from a well known high street optician did not help. I was left  feeling as if the end of my playing had arrived I contacted Optical Allegro. The difference was enormous!  Nothing was too much trouble and they went that extra mile for me. Thank you Sheryl and all your staff for being so friendly, supportive and caring to both myself and my wife”. 

Why do musicians come to Allegro Optical?

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 a field. 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‘. During March Allegro Optical was awarded the  ‘Scale-Up Business of the Year‘ at the regional finals of the Federation of Small Business awards in York and 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.

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

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.

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Now Peter really is Mr Bass Man thanks to his specialist musicians glasses

EEb Bass Player Peter plays in Mono

It’s always nice to catch up with a musical friend and EEb Bass player Peter Minshull from Cheshire has become just that. Having visited Allegro Optical in the past and being one of our early clients purchasing a pair of specialist musicians glasses. It was lovely to see him again when he visited us for his yearly check.

During the eye examination it became apparent that Peter had had a hyperopic shift. Meaning he had become a little more long sighted. Peter had felt that his vision had changed and mentioned that reading music on his stand was becoming more problematic even with his specialist musicians glasses.

Peter is a retired Civil Engineer and since retiring has returned to music making and now plays for several ensembles including;

Winterley Methodist Brass Band

Sandbach U3A Band 

Alsager Light Orchestra

This means that no two working distances are ever the same as the rehearsal rooms and so set up differs. Because of this we had to try to give Peter as good a range of vision as possible.Alsager Light Orchestra Alsager Light Orchestra. Photo courtesy of Geoff Reader

It’s not always better in stereo

Peter who is presbyopic, also has a strong right eye dominance, the tendency to prefer visual input from one eye to the other. This is a bit of a challenge for an EEb Bass player. The large bell of the instrument partially obscures his field of view. This  means he has to read the music with his non dominant eye. This can present as his right eye was dominating his vision and his brain was processing the right image by preference. We resolved this by suppressing Peter’s dominance. Preventing the right eye from disturbing his vision of the music on the stand. 

Ocular dominance issues solved at Allegro Optical Opticians in MelthamWe dispensed a monocular solution which allowed Peter a clear view of the conductor. In his right lens we also gave him a little notation field to the bottom of the lens. While in the left we concentrated on giving the widest field at music stand distance. Both lenses are fully personalised freeform lenses, manufactured using the latest digital ray-path technology, to maximise visual performance.

Seeing the music

Peter collected his new glasses a couple of weeks later, (while his wife Keri was having her eye test). We had experimented with Peter’s problem and had dispensed a mono-vision solution. So, we all held our breaths when Peter tried them on. Would he like the new monocular solution? What if he experienced double vision? Would he lose his depth of field? These were some of the questions we asked ourselves during the dispense and production process. I know we were all thinking that when he first put them on!

Peter Minshull EEb Bass player buys his specialist musicians glasses from ALlegro Optical the musicians optician

Seeing is believing

Thankfully Peter adapted really quickly. After an initial adjustment period to his new prescription, his vision seemed to settle very quickly. All our musicians lenses come with a full guarantee, just like all varifocals. If it isn’t perfect the first time, we will change the design until it is.

Peter was back at the practice a couple of weeks later when his wife came to collect her new glasses. While there he commented on the wide field of view he has of the music on his stand. We asked him how he was getting along with his new glasses and he said; I was becoming increasingly frustrated by High Street opticians who could only offer what they called ‘work’ glasses (intermediate/long distance varifocals) which did not work for reading music and seeing the conductor clearly.  When I met Sheryl at the Blackpool area band contest it was a ‘no-brainer’. To go to an optician who not only understood the problems musicians have, but are very capable of solving these problems. My latest glasses work very well – when I first started using them it was obvious that I was using my left eye to read the music, rather than my right eye which I had previously. However, having used them for a little while now I have become accustomed to them. I now don’t notice which I eye I am using. All I notice is that the music is always in focus no matter what size of the print.

Why Allegro?

Making music requires the ability to read music, often very quickly and at many different distances. This can present a musician with real problems, particularly if their instrument obscures their visual field. As a result of this, some musicians go on to develop postural problems because of their compromised visual clarity.

As musicians ourselves we have an understanding of the playing and seating positions of professional musicians. Thanks to very knowledgeable team of optical professionals, of which many are musical. We are ideally placed to resolve these issues and many more with our unique specialist musicians lenses.  Once we have restored visual clarity and the optical disorders corrected the musicians working and playing life can easily be improved.

A family business

As an independent family run business we are gaining an international reputation for professional excellence. Our inventive approach helps us to meet customer needs. Now known internationally as the ‘Musicians Opticians’ we are attracting many clients from across Europe and further a field. 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. Dispensing specialist musicians glasses means musicians can continue to play and enjoy making the music they love.

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 Yearat a gala event in London. Managing Director Sheryl Doe was awarded the 2019Dispensing Optician of the Yearand she has been shortlisted for the AOP Dispensing Optician of the year 2020.

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

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

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

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Double trouble for a musical duo – A couples search for specialist musicians glasses

A tale of a musical couple search for specialist musicians glasses – by Stephen Tighe

It’s not unusual forthe musician’s opticianto book an instrumentalist in for an eye test. It is less frequent that we book those appointments in pairs. However musical couples are quite a thing, our own directors are a musical pairing. So when Conductor and Tuba player Marcus Jones and his partner, Louise Crane rang to book an appointment together, the team weren’t phased.

In time, but one at a time

The couple visited our practice in Greenfield Saddleworth, with Louise being the first in the “big chair.”  Louise complained of some eye strain with her current glasses, she felt it was time to seek a new prescription. As a musician with a moderate hyperopia prescription and a high oblique astigmatism, Louise immediately presented us with a challenge. Louise also has a minor strabismus and was investigated for Brown’s Syndrome as a child. We knew that peripheral distortion was going to be a problem for Louise, so we needed to overcome this. 

Being relatively young, Louise retains a good amount of accommodation, but her near vision is quite unbalanced. For this reason, unusually, we prescribed Louise with uneven add’s. We dispensed Louise with specialist musicians glasses with lenses from our turba range, as she still has relatively low adds. We did however want to balance her vision as best we could to make playing, conducting and life in general as easy as possible. The higher add was given for her left and less accommodative eye. While we have kept the addition to a minimum for the dominant right eye. 

Ashton Riley

Louise chose two beautiful frames from the Ashton Riley range, beautiful frames designed in the UK by Brett Waugh and named after his son. These easy to wear frames feature interesting but wearable shapes, which are complemented by acetate colours with depth and detail. Louise chose the Manchester and York models providing her with two very different styles for different occasions. Both frames dress up or down and are extremely flattering to Louise’s face shape. 

Ashton Riley York from Allegro Optical Opticians Ashton Riley – York 

Ashton Riley Manchester Black Matte from Allegro Optical Opticians Ashton Riley – Manchester

When asked about her new glasses Louise, who conducts the Middleton youth band and plays soprano cornet for the main band, said; “I’m loving my musicians glasses! I was a bit skeptical at first having always had a single vision lens. But the Allegro team took the time to carefully tailor my new prescription and lenses really well. The eye strain and headaches I was experiencing have completely gone and I can now see fine print and music much more clearly, highly recommended.”

Louise Crane and Marcus Jones buy their specialist musicians glasses at Allegro Optical the musicians optician

A second sitting

Next in the chair was Marcus, current Music Director of Dove Holes Brass Band and talented Tuba player. Marcus is mildly short sighted and can see the music on his stand fairly well without his glasses. However taking specs on and off during rehearsals isn’t very practical. Like Louise we dispensed Marcus with two pairs of specialist musicians glasses. Both with Turba lenses to help with transitioning between the two working distances. 

Marcus wanted a frame that fitted well with a wide eye size. Opting for our 2-4-1 offer Marcus chose the Jaguar 33098 in both blue and charcoal.

When he collected his new glasses Marcus commented on how comfortable they were in comparison to his old tight fitting spectacles. In fact Marcus went on to say; I’d recommend Allegro Optical Ltd to all glasses wearers musicians or not, their care and understanding goes above and beyond.”  Thank you Marcus.

Why Allegro?

This case study illustrates how frustrating vision problems can be for the musician. Focusing at the many different distances can be very problematic. As was illustrated in both Louise and Marcus’s case, many musicians find they struggle with the varying focal distances required. Some musicians even suffer from postural problems, which are often caused by their deteriorating vision as they try to compensate for this reduced visual acuity.

With an understanding of the playing and seating positions of professional musicians, this can be overcome and the musicians working and playing life can easily be improved.  Many Musicians who experience vision problems are unaware that there is a solution to their vision problems and soldier on. Thanks to Allegro Optical there is no need to suffer in silence.

A family Business

As an independent family run specialist business, Allegro Optical is gaining an international reputation. Both for professional excellence and an inventive approach to meeting customer needs. Becoming known internationally as the ‘Musicians Opticians’ the team are attracting many clients from across Europe and further a field. It’s our groundbreaking work with performers, players and conductors which has resulted in Allegro Optical becoming the first and only opticians to gain registration with the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM).  

We firmly believe in treating each client as an individual and it is true that no two musicians are the same. Even if they come in pairs! On that note we ask our usual question.  Why should all musicians vision correction be the same? 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. Marcus and Louise have been delighted with their specialist musicians glasses and now recommend us to all their friends.

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 Yearat a gala event in London. Managing Director Sheryl Doe was awarded the 2019 ‘Dispensing Optician of the Year‘. During March Allegro Optical was awarded the  Scale-Up Business of the Year at the regional finals of the Federation of Small Business awards in York and 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.

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

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.

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Christmas fashion and style in Greenfield, Saddleworth and Meltham, Holmfirth

Christmas fashion and style in Meltham and Saddleworth

The big day is nearly here and you’re invited to an evening of Christmas fashion and style in Meltham and Saddleworth. Are you a last minute Christmas shopper, trying to get something for everyone a week before the big day? Or, have you not only bought, but actually wrapped most of your presents already? Either way you can’t deny that the festive season is nearly upon us. 

Does the office party or Christmas Jumper Day fill you with dread? Do you worry about what to wear to the charity gala dinner? If so help is at hand as Allegro Optical calls in the experts at two evenings of festive fun and sparkle. 

Find your fashion

Following on from our successful colour and style event in July we are hosting two evenings of seasonal fashion and style tips. Coco Chanel famously said “Fashion changes, but style endures” and that is what the evenings are all about.

The purpose of our event is to engage in an evening of discussion about the importance of self-confidence through good styling. Fashion wouldn’t exist without style. Many of us don’t feel empowered enough to wear the styles of clothing that appeal to us the most. At Allegro Optical we want to encourage everyone to be bold enough to celebrate their own style and unapologetically express themselves.

A word from the experts

Guest speakers will use style, embellishment, and festivities as a topic to lead discussions about how to stay confident, motivated, inspired and most of all to love ourselves. The fashion industry doesn’t discuss this enough, so we aim to encourage and empower our audience and have them leave inspired or having inspired others. We talk about how colour and shape can flatter or flounder and how it can help your personality sparkle this festive season.

The evenings begin with a drinks and nibbles reception and you will have the opportunity to talk to all the speakers. 

Sparkle event ALlegro Optical at Scona 14th November 2019The first event is taking place on Thursday 14th November at Scona in Greenfield at 7:30 

Sparkle event Allegro Optical at 20th November 2019The second on Wednesday 20th November at Allegro Optical in Meltham.

If you would like to join us for an evening of sparkle and style in Greenfield register here or call 01457 353100 or for Meltham click here or call 01484 907090