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About Allegro

‘See The Best’ – Award winning eyecare in Meltham, Greenfield and now Marsden

A brand new practice arrives in the heart of Marsden

We are thrilled to announce that our brand new practice opened last Saturday in the picturesque village of Marsden. The new premises is located at 30 Peel Street in the centre of the Marsden village and was opened by Carol Baxter, Musical Director of the Holme Valley Flutes who played at the occasion. Carol was Allegro Optical’s very first customer when we opened our Meltham practice.

Allegro Optical opened its first Optician’s practice in Meltham in 2017 and there are currently eight members of the founding family working at the business, committed to providing exceptional customer service and products to clients in West Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Since opening our first practice over five years ago, we have ensured that every Allegro Optical practice offers a thoroughly professional and friendly service, in a clean, modern and welcoming environment. We offer comprehensive eye examinations and professional dispensing services by highly qualified Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians. In fact, our team of six Dispensing Opticians includes ‘three national Dispensing Opticians of the Year’. Stephen, Sheryl and Kim won the national award in 2006, 2019 and 2021 respectively. We combine the very latest technology and equipment and the skill set of highly consummate professionals, to provide you with the very best eye care possible.     

We also offer a full contact lens service, visual stress assessments, Optical Coherence Tomography, saccadic eye-tracking and a complete hearing care service with our fully qualified Audiologists, hearing aid dispensers and Hearing Care Nurse providing a comprehensive ear wax removal service including irrigation and microsuction, giving you the option to choose the method you prefer.

Group Managing Director Stephen Tighe states:  “We as directors have made a firm commitment to not only survive these difficult times but to grow and thrive during them. Due to the success of our Greenfield practice which opened in 2019, the previous history of Allegro Optical in Meltham and the opportunity to acquire new premises in Marsden, we believe this is the perfect time to expand. As a former resident of Marsden, I think the village has a great deal of potential in the future.  We are very happy to come to Marsden and we are looking forward to welcoming new clients to our practice.

The two-storey premises brings more capacity for clients, with a state of the art test room, a camera equipment room, eyewear styling room and a large shop floor, which is currently playing host to an exhibition of local art by artists Matt Turner and Kevin Threlfall. Which hopefully will help the local arts community.

The expansion has also allowed Allegro Optical to take on another professional optometrist and a dispensing optician to cope with increasing demand.

Optical Managing Director Sheryl Doe said: “We wanted to make Marsden a flagship, capable of accommodating the latest technology, but without it feeling or looking clinical  and we are delighted with the results.”

If you live locally and would like to take the opportunity to experience award-winning dispensing and eye care we would love to welcome you. 
We’re also now offering a style consultation service to help you find the perfect pair to suit your style. So please give us a call in either Marsden 01484 768888, Greenfield 01457 353100 or Meltham 01484 907090 to find the perfect match. Also, follow us on Twitter @AllegroOptical. Or on Instagram @allegrooptical.

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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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About Allegro

It’s been a funny old year for this optician

As we look back on what can only be considered another strange year, we’re reviewing the past 12 months. We all started the year glad to see the back of 2020, because let’s face it who would want to go back there again! 

2021 began in tiers, we started the year in tier 4 and the North of England experienced another mini lockdown as the infection rate continued to rise. 

A new year and a new face

In spite of the pandemic, Allegro Optical continued to grow and in March Charlene Bradford joined the team. Charlie joined the team from hearing care provider Amplifon and with her came a wealth of knowledge. 

Spring was music to our eyes and ears

By the spring we were seeing a return of our musical clients as many musicians returned to performing as theatres and concert halls reopened. It was so good to feel nearly normal again and get back to enjoying helping performing artists to #SeeTheMusic.

Helping front line workers

While we were busy helping musicians and performers, Dispensing Optician Kim was busy working her socks off providing the frontline staff of  NHS mid-Yorkshire Trust with prescription safety goggles. Starting with just the one hospital, Pinderfields General Hospital, the project has since grown to include Kirklees and Calderdale trust and Leeds St James’s University Hospital.

An eye on the future

In May, we installed a new OCT machine in Greenfield, making Allegro Optical the ONLY optician in Saddleworth & Meltham to have this hospital grade technology. Taking care of your eyes is now so much easier with our new 3D Ocular Coherence Tomography scanner. It is not available on the NHS, but it is available to NHS patients for a small extra fee. 

An OCT scan can help detect sight-threatening eye conditions earlier. It is possible to detect glaucoma up to four years sooner. Greenfield’s resident Optometrist Sara was over the moon to be able to provide cutting-edge eye care to the people of Saddleworth. Sara commented that she is pleased to now be offering OCT scans as part of eye exams. “OCT adds great value to our optician service, since it enables us to detect and manage conditions with a level of diagnostic capabilities that previously couldn’t be achieved without visiting a hospital,” Said Sara. Detecting these conditions early is the key to helping manage them or referring patients for treatment”.

More new faces

As the year progressed we continued to grow and in July and August, Trainee Optical Assistant Rebecca and Optometrist Liz joined the team. Both young ladies are keen pianists and Liz is also a talented clarinettist.

August was also a month of celebration as Allegro Optical was again named as SME News, West Yorkshire’s Most Trusted Family Run Eye Care Clinic for the second year running.

As a family we usually mark Yorkshire day on the 1st August every year and this year it was particularly special. 

October was all ears

During October, the focus was on hearing care and ear wax removal. Hearing care professionals Audiologist Farzana and Registered Nurse Harriet joined the Allegro Optical family providing Ear Wax removal services such as irrigation and microsuction.

As a result of GPs no longer offering ear syringing, the Ear wax removal service addresses a more prevalent problem in the community than you might think. Harriet has a background in community nursing of more than 10 years and is putting the techniques she has learned to good use. An audiologist by training, Ferzana says her job is a perfect blend of clinical and social aspects. Both ladies work in Meltham and Greenfield, and they are always willing to assist when needed. 

Saving the best till last

In true Hollywood style 2021 saved the best till last when our very own Kim Walker won the prized title of Dispensing Optician of the Year at the Opticians Awards gala dinner in Mayfair. The award is Allegro Optical’s second Opticians Awards win in three years, which recognises excellence in the UK’s optical industry. 

Safety eyewear specialist Kim Walker was shortlisted for this award, one of our industry’s most prestigious in October. Still not quite sure the win really has happened Kim said “It was a privilege to be shortlisted let alone win, I feel truly humbled and this is one the highlights of my life.”

What ever next?

 

As we write this blog, we are experiencing a sense of déjà vu, with new restrictions and COVID-19 measures looming after Christmas, many of us are thinking “Here we go again”. The last thing we want to do is return to 2020.

During the holiday season, we will let our team enjoy some family time and a well-deserved break. We won’t rest on our laurels while they recharge their batteries. Our Greenfield practice in Saddleworth as well as our founding store in Meltham, Holmfirth will undergo renovations and enter the New Year with a new look and cutting-edge equipment. Watch this space!

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News

She did it! Insp-eye-ering Optician Kim scoops national award

Kim Walker – Dispensing Optician of the Year 2021

We are absolutely delighted to announce that our Dispensing Optician Kim Walker has won the prized 2021 UK Optician Awards Dispensing Optician of the Year Award. Kim’s contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic are acknowledged by this award. 

This is Allegro Optical’s second Opticians Awards win in three years, which recognises excellence in the UK’s optical industry. Managing Director, Dispensing Optician Sheryl Doe scooped the prestigious award in 2019

An angel for the NHS

In addition to her work in practice Kim and her colleagues have been dispensing prescription safety eyewear to frontline NHS staff at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, Mid Yorkshire Trust Hospitals, and St James’s University Hospital Leeds. Kim has worked tirelessly for the past year to provide as many frontline NHS staff as possible with prescription eye protection as they battle the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Kim worked long hours in practice and at the Hospitals, seeing up to 50 patients a day. Even on her day off, she has gone to work and often stayed overnight due to bad weather. Often under challenging conditions, Kim has dispensed and fitted over 2000 pairs of safety glasses to NHS frontline workers, completing over 4000 appointments. Kim has been emotionally drained at times, but ever the professional, she has not let that affect her  work.

An eye on the prize

Even though Kim felt a little overwhelmed by the honour, she and Allegro Optical are thrilled to be recognised nationally once again in this way. When asked about her award Kim said ““It was a privilege to be shortlisted let alone win, I feel truly humbled and this is one the highlights of my life.”

This latest national award is a testament to Kim’s professionalism, experience, dedication, continued high level of service delivery, and Allegro Optical’s use of cutting-edge technology. 

Technology and Professionalism

Allegro Optical we pride ourselves on combining award-winning customer service with cutting-edge technology, including optical coherence tomography (OCT) scanners in both Meltham and Greenfield. With OCT imaging the Allegro Optical eye care professionals can detect signs of serious eye conditions up to 4 years earlier than with traditional methods.

We have just invested in Clinical Eye Trackers for both practices, another first in the area. Allegro Optical Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians now have a new tool to evaluate and test eye movements and binocular vision. This allows the team to provide clients with the best optical solutions in the area.

In addition to OCT and Clinical Eye Trackers, both practices now have colorimeters which are used to assess symptoms of visual stress, and other conditions including migraine, photo-sensitive epilepsy or acquired brain injuries. A grand reopening will take place in January 2022 to unveil the new equipment and the new refit. 

We are very proud to represent Holmfirth and Saddleworth nationally and continue to provide a high level of service to their loyal and local customers. 

If you would like to experience award winning eye care and the very latest in ophthalmic technology, all in sumptuous and welcoming surroundings call one of our teams in Meltham on 01484 907090 or Greenfield on 01457 353100

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About Allegro

Janet’s Spectacular eyewear styling journey

From Boring Binns to Glorious Glasses 

We recognise that selecting new glasses is a pain for most individuals. In most other circumstances, you’re left to “self-select” your eyewear from a dizzying assortment of potentially thousands of options. This merely increases your chances of selecting the incorrect frame! Now combine the new spectacle frame dilemma with a very strong prescription and you have a recipe for disaster.

It was in early May that Janet approached us having heard about the Allegro Optical Eyewear Styling approach to choosing new glasses. Having purchased new glasses a few months earlier from a local competitor Janet was disappointed with her appearance in the glasses. Her lens thickness and her quality of vision correction. 

At Allegro Optical, we provide a more refined method of purchasing eyewear. Our Eyewear Styling Consultation enables our registered dispensing opticians to help our clients select new glasses. It is intended to alleviate the frustrations and inconveniences that come with selecting new glasses. Our individual approach saves clients considerable time and effort. It also eliminates the random and often disorderly approach to selecting new glasses. It will make the entire purchasing experience more pleasurable and gratifying. Eyewear styling clients receive expert guidance and recommendations to suit their personality, colouring, face shape and visual needs.

Time to show Janet’s true colours

After a few minutes of discussion with Janet, we were able to get to know her style preferences and attitude to colour. We then analysed Janet’s colouring and facial features, took some facial measurements and discussed her lens preferences. Our aim is to provide clients with a calm and pleasurable experience. We help them to enjoy the process of trying on frames from our hand-curated range of eyewear. Clients can also enjoy either a great pot of tea or a cafetière of fresh coffee. Alternatively, a glass of wine or Prosecco may be more your style.

Having spent some time with Janet, we discovered that she has a creative and natural styling personality and favours a cool colour palette. Janet has quite angular features, fabulous cheekbones and beautifully arched brows which we wanted to accentuate. 

We selected six frames of the correct size for Janet to choose from, she settled on the very first one we showed her, a stunning frame by Oliver Goldsmith. A beautiful medium grey tortoise acetate with a very subtle cat-eye shape, the frame has a polished Italian acetate front, with brushed steel sides and matching temple tips.

Outside Prescriptions Welcome

Janet brought her prescription from her previous optician with her. Our Optometrist, Sara Ackroyd, checked the notated powers then we set about choosing Janet’s lenses. Janet is amblyopic, in other words, she has what is often referred to as a lazy eye and she has a very strong prescription. We settled on the thinnest possible resin lenses, choosing a 1.74 index with lenticularisation to thin the edges. 1.74 index resins are ultra-high index lens materials that are used to make lenses that are extremely thin. Perfect for Janet prescription. As Janet has quite an active lifestyle she wanted Transition lenses and favoured the grey colour change as it complimented her frames.  

On closer inspection

As Janet’s prescription is so strong she prefers to have separate glasses for reading and distance. For her reading glasses, she chose a beautiful frame by the bold Dutch manufacturer Outspoken, opting for the Outspoken OA2021. We glazed this frame with a 1.67 resin, again using lenticularisation to thin the edges. The 1.67 index lens material provides a perfect base for thinner lenses and has strong impact resistance. Again, Janet opted for a grey Transitions 8 coating so that she can enjoy reading in the sun. 

Having joined “Eyeplan” (our eye care scheme), Janet is safe in the knowledge that she has fully insured her glasses against accidental damage. The scheme also gives her unlimited eye care, whenever she needs it and preferential rates on all purchases. So it was no surprise that after collecting her first pair of glasses Janet decided to purchase some sunglasses.

Time for some fun in the sun

Janet was delighted with her reading glasses, her lens thickness and her quality of vision in them. She was so pleased, she decided to order some prescription sunglasses and settled on two pairs of Aspinal of London. Janet chose the Palmero Sunglass in two colours, the Opal and the Mink. 

While the design of these frames was inspired by the 1960s Italian glitterati culture, they still feature some contemporary elements. For a delicate designer touch, each piece is lightly decorated with Aspinal of London’s identifiable logo and branding, making these frames instantly recognisable. 

Janet opted for a very dark tinted, high index lens, with a dual surface anti-reflection coating. This helps to reduce glare and give a better cosmetic appearance. Sometimes high prescription lenses can appear to be quite thick and heavy.

Not wanting a spectacle

Now that Janet has a fantastic spectacle wardrobe, she is all set for any occasion. That said, she still wanted contact lenses for occasional use, for those moments when wearing glasses isn’t practical. Janet preferred Acuvue Oasys 1 Day Lenses as they give her the flexibility to wear them just occasionally. These lenses have a good expiry date, allowing her to keep a box for when she wants them without committing to a regular supply. Although she does have the option to have regular deliveries of just 30 pairs to her home address every three months if she wishes.

A word from the lady herself

Now Janet has a fabulous spectacle wardrobe and is enjoying her eyewear once again. We asked Janet how she felt about her eyewear styling journey with Allegro Optical. Her response was as follows;

“Too often I have felt a sense of ‘making-do’ with frames that simply fit my prescription to avoid thick lenses, with little attention to whether they suit my face or indeed have any style or flair to them. In contrast, I am delighted with my spectacles from Allegro, as encouraged by Sheryl I chose some beautifully stylish, up-to-date frames that make me look younger and feel brighter when I see my reflection in a mirror. The attention to detail in lenses so thinned-down and neatly fitted is exceptional, and the customer care has felt personal and entirely tailored to my individual needs. What more can I say? I highly recommend Allegro Opticians and am delighted to have found a local optician that I can rely on.”

Love your eyewear

Because we wear our glasses all day and rely on them to see correctly, comfort, style and function are equally important parts of the overall glass-wearing experience. It can also make choosing the right pair of glasses seem intimidating and challenging. A qualified, GOC registered dispensing optician can guide you through the maze of choosing the right glasses for you. Our dispensing opticians are trained, eyewear stylists. They are able to suggest alternatives and even make the experience enjoyable. They will find frames that fit perfectly. Frames that are suitable for your prescription and most importantly help you to feel confident in your eyewear. 

Enjoy some eye time

The process we use is geared to making you feel comfortable with your choice of eyewear, give you confidence when wearing your glasses and help you fall in love with your eyewear. We’d also like to add that eyewear styling isn’t just for the ladies! Gentlemen can also benefit from an eyewear consultation to assist them in selecting frames that match their individuality, business persona or reflect their personality. 

Glasses can help people understand you for who you are, or they can help you portray the image you want. The idea is to get the best glasses frames to project the image you want while still suiting your personality and lifestyle. That goes for ladies and gentlemen.

Book your consultation and enjoy some eye time

With our Eyewear Styling Consultation, you’ll get more personalised service and better advice. You’ll enjoy a relaxed and courteous consultation with a member of our dispensing team, instead of looking through hundreds of frames that don’t suit you or fit you well. It could also be a lot of fun.

To book your personal eyewear styling consultation, simply call us in Greenfield, Saddleworth on 01457 35310 or Meltham, Holmfirth on 01484 907090 and have a chat with one of our friendly teams.

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What will you be doing this National Eye Health Week?

Fin in trial frame small

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

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

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

How do I know if I need an eye test?

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

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

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

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

How to enjoy healthy eyes

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

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

Walking in sunshine

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

Do the right thing

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

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

Don’t leave it to chance

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth Holmes joins the Allegro Optical team

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

The team continues to grow

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

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

More than meets the eye

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

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

Elizabeth is registered with:

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

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

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Lenses are all the same! Aren’t they?

James Brooks examining a lens after surfacing

Why are lenses so expensive? They’re just bits of plastic, aren’t they?

These are questions we are often asked. The simple answer is no, lenses are not all the same. In this blog we will try our best to explain the difference between the many different types of lenses.

Different types of lenses: Digital, HD, and stock.

Have you ever wondered how your spectacle lenses are made? Advanced technologies can be used to make lenses in two main ways.
  1. Pre-manufactured Lenses
  2. Custom Manufactured Lenses

Pre-manufactured Lenses

These types of lenses also commonly known as “Stock” lenses are manufactured to a standard prescription and all lenses made to that prescription in that way are exactly the same. Once manufactured the lenses are polished. These lenses are pre-manufactured with a certain base curve, prescription and blank size. Lenses can then be coated with anti-glare, anti-scratch or both, and packaged for glazing into a frame. Once the lens is finished, optical or optometry retailers will offer these lenses for customers based on their visual needs.

Custom Manufactured Lenses

A surfaced lens is created by taking a blank piece of plastic (without any prescription) and grinding the prescription into the plastic. These lenses are custom made and are manufactured with a custom base curve, prescription and blank size.  Digital lenses utilise state-of-the-art technology to enhance quality and performance. In our digital lenses, we use camber technology to create a single vision lens that delivers superior clarity and performance. With 1/100th diopter precision, this technology allows for ultra-clear vision with minimal edge distortion. Free form lenses provide the absolute best optical quality of any digital lens. A revolutionary digital manufacturing process, Free Form uses computer-aided design and surfacing to produce high-quality, customised lenses providing the viewer with an unsurpassed visual experience.  

Just like a HD TV

Remember the first time you saw high-definition television. Do you recall how your old analog TV picture seemed pixelated and blurry? With high-definition, you can see more detail and colours appear brighter, shapes are sharper, and everything is in sharp focus. Just imagine how your glasses would feel in that situation. With your current lenses, you can probably see fine, much like watching analogue TV was fine, but what if you could see in high-definition? Try our free form digital lenses if you are looking for a better clarity of vision. Just imagine how your HD TV screen will look then! Pre-manufactured Lenses Benefits:
  • Ideal for single vision prescriptions (SPH: +3.75 to -6.00 & CYL: 0.00 to  -2.00)
  • Turnaround times that are faster (convenience)
  • The least expensive (affordable)
Negatives:
  • Size restrictions for prescriptions and blanks
  • A lens with average optical quality due to internal stress
  • After manufacturing, different parts of the lens  harden at different rates, resulting in minor vision distortions. Especially noticeable for certain prescriptions and  eye sensitivity.
  • Measures OC/seg height, pantoscopic tilt, wrap angle, and back vertex distance aren’t taken into account

Custom Manufactured Lenses

Benefits:
  • With this method, we can create almost any prescription (high SPH, CYL, ADD, Prism, etc.)
  • Have a better optical quality, since they are not subject to internal stress
  • Custom prescriptions with base curves and OC/seg heights
  • Adaptable to any frame shape with wrap for less distortion (any size blank can be made)
Negatives:
  • Custom lenses cost more, but they are well worth the extra cost due to improved visual performance

Free Form HD Lenses

Advantages:
  • Night and low light vision is exceptional with free-form lenses. Some sources of light at night, like headlights, can cause glare and halo effects.
  • Exceptional contrast perception: Freeform lenses enhance vision
  • Exceptional colour vision: By optimizing the optics inside your lenses, you’re able to enjoy brighter, more intense colors
  • With this method, we can create almost any prescription (high SPH, CYL, ADD, Prism, etc.)
  • The optical quality of these lenses is better than stock ones because they are not stressed internally
  • Custom prescriptions with base curves and OC/seg heights
  • Prescriptions based on eyewear measurements, like pantoscopic tilt, wrapping, and back vertex distance
  • Adaptable to any frame shape with wrap for less distortion (any size blank can be made)
Negatives:
  • There is an additional cost for these high definition lenses because they were custom made, but it is definitely worth it
The stock lens is like an off-the-rail suit, the digital/surfaced lens is like getting a tailored suit, and freeform lenses are like buying a suit in your size. We offer all of these lens options to our customers, and we want to educate you about the various types of lenses that are available.

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 Yearat 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 struggling with your vision? If so call us at either Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090.
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April’s Frame of the Month – Booth & Bruce

Booth & Bruce eyewear from Allegro Optical

Booth & Bruce for some Easter colour

Hello, I’m Xanthe! If you don’t know who I am then here is a quick introduction, I am Sheryl’s youngest daughter. I have worked for Allegro Optical for 4 years and one of the jobs I do is write blogs, which I love! In these blogs I get to tell you all about all kinds of exciting things. Xanthe's Frame of the Month Whether it’s about how pancake day came to be, why you should NEVER play with fireworks and lots of other fun topics.  Today is no different as an exciting new challenge has been presented to me. For the next 12 months, I am going to be bringing you a frame of the month! What is “frame of the month,” you ask? Well, it’s where I will be looking through our stock in both Meltham & Greenfield and picking out a frame that I love and think you will too. I will then proceed to tell you why I like it so much.

Booth & Bruce, BB1601

When I was searching for this month’s frame of the month I knew it had to be special, and I think my choice of this Booth & Bruce, BB1601, in the colour Singed Sapphire is exactly that. I love the fact that the moment I saw this frame I just fell in love with it! It just looked so unique and funky, the contrast between the blue and the wood effect was just so different. To then find out it was an English brand that prided itself on being British while still having a global reach is exactly the kind of brand we love. 

Booth & Bruce BB1601 Singed Sapphire at Allegro Optical Opticians A little bit about Booth & Bruce So who are Booth & Bruce? Aside from being a brand that is unashamedly English? They began in the 1990s with a goal of offering eyewear that was fashionable, but different for everyone. Booth & Bruce are always looking to push the boundaries and find new, funky, and exciting ways to make their eyewear something unique. Now 30 years after Booth & Bruce was born they have a global reach, but they still stick firmly to the roots this distinctive brand was built on. The BB1601 offers collaborations of daring with a chic design and expressive colour schemes that push boundaries enabling wearers to feel stylish and funky.

Take a peek at Booth & Bruce

So if, like me, you love the look of this frame or the sound of this brand then don’t hesitate to come in and have a look at our range of Booth and Bruce frames. Take the opportunity to inject some style and funkiness into your eyewear wardrobe. We’re also now offering a style consultation service to help you find the perfect pair to suit your style. So please give us a call in either Greenfield 01457 353100 or Meltham 01484 907090 to find the perfect match. Also, follow us on Twitter @AllegroOptical. Or on Instagram @allegrooptical.