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Wind Musicians and Glaucoma January is Glaucoma Awareness Month at the “Musicians’ Optician”

The month of January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness of the leading cause of irreversible blindness. We take Glaucoma very seriously at Allegro Optical since many of our staff members are wind instrumentalists. 

Researchers have recently concluded that musicians who play high-resistance wind instruments may be more inclined to develop glaucoma. This is because blowing into high-resistance wind instruments causes the body to automatically perform a Valsalva manoeuvre in response to certain stimuli. Wind instrumentalists take a breath, but before they begin playing there is a momentary hesitation as their tongues rise up and lock in place, building up air pressure in their mouth.

Focusing on musicians eye pressure

JS Schuman demonstrated in 2000 that playing notes with high resistance and amplitude increases eye pressure significantly. When playing their instruments, high- and low-resistance wind musicians experience a transient increase in intraocular pressure (IOP). Optometrists measure this with the puff of air test. Players with high resistance to wind experience a greater increase in IOP than those with low resistance to wind. 

A small but significantly higher incidence of visual field loss (loss of peripheral vision) was observed among wind musicians who had high resistance.  According to JS Schuman, long-term intermittent elevations in IOP during the playing of high-resistance wind instruments, such as a trumpet, can result in glaucomatous damage that could be misdiagnosed as normal-tension glaucoma.

Soprano and Alto Saxophonists, French Horn players, Soprano Cornet players and Oboists experienced smaller increases in IOP. Once a musician stops blowing into the instrument, the IOP returns to normal. During playing instruments, these players may experience “transient” (in terms of hours) periods of increased eye pressure. Because it has not been studied, no one knows how common glaucoma is among high-resistance wind instrument players. A musician who has more than one risk factor is probably more susceptible to glaucoma. A short-sighted professional trumpet player with a family history of glaucoma, for example, would have an extremely high risk of developing glaucoma.

Who Is Susceptible To Glaucoma?

Glaucoma and its effects should be of concern to everyone. Some people are at greater risk of developing this disease because of certain conditions related to it. Among them are:

  1. Those with a family history of glaucoma.
  2. People of Afro-Caribbean origin are four times more likely to get glaucoma than Caucasians.
  3. Short-sightedness (needing glasses to see at distance) increases the risk of developing primary open-angle glaucoma. Another type of glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma, is more common in long-sighted individuals (who require glasses for near tasks).
  4. Glaucoma is also more likely to affect people with diabetes, those who have had eye injuries, or those who have had long-term treatment with steroids.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is not one disease. In reality, it is caused by various diseases that affect the eye. These diseases cause glaucoma by gradually deteriorating the cells of the optic nerve, which transmits visual impulses from the eye to the brain. The nature of glaucoma can be clarified by understanding how the eye works.

An eye is filled with a jelly-like substance referred to as vitreous. In the front of the eye, a small compartment, the anterior chamber, is filled with a watery fluid, the aqueous humor, which not only nourishes the cornea and lens but also provides the necessary pressure to maintain the eye’s shape. Intraocular pressure, or IOP, is the name given to this pressure. 

A gland behind the iris produces aqueous humor, called the ciliary body. After nourishing both the cornea and lens, it drains through a thin, spongy tissue only one-fiftieth of an inch wide, called the trabecular meshwork. As this drain clogs, aqueous humor cannot leave the eye at the speed it is produced. Consequently, the fluid backs up and the pressure in the eye increases.

Damage caused in the eye by increased pressure

The optic nerve can be damaged by glaucoma. Gradually, this nerve deteriorates, causing blind spots in the visual field, particularly in the periphery. Normally, the “cup” in the centre of the optic disc is quite small in comparison with the entire optic disc. When the optic nerve is damaged by glaucoma, the nerve fibres begin to die because of increased pressure in the eye and/or a loss of blood flow. As a result of glaucoma, the optic nerve cup enlarges (and in reality, the optic nerve enlarges as a result). Although the exact reason for this occurrence is unknown, increased eye pressure is likely to be the cause of this nerve damage. 

We all want to enjoy as long a music-making career as possible, we all know making music isn’t just a hobby, it’s a passion and a way of life. So protect your sight reading by looking after your eye health and your vision. If you can’t sight read the music on the stand you won’t be able to play it. 

Protect your vision and extend your playing career by following a few simple tips. Here are some habits that can reduce the risk of glaucoma-related vision loss include:

  • Have regular eye exams, at least once every two years
  • If you have a family history of glaucoma then have an exam every year
  • Consume lots of leafy greens and fruits
  • Regular and moderate exercise is essential
  • Stay healthy by maintaining a healthy weight
  • Consume coffee moderately, or better yet, sip tea instead
  • Avoid smoking

Give your eyes a little TLC during Glaucoma Awareness Month? Call Allegro Optical in Greenfield or Meltham to schedule an appointment! The best way to maintain good eye health is to have regular eye exams at all ages!

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“In conversation” with Cory Band’s Flugelhorn star;  Helen Williams

Allegro Optical talks to Helen WIlliams

“Green Eyewear” for green eyes

“In Conversation” will be a regular interview series, in which one of our team sits down with leading lights from the world of music. From musicians to dancers, public speakers to instrument makers, this series will allow us to chat with some of the creative people we have helped and talk to them in-depth, about their careers, creative processes, and most importantly their vision and eyewear.

Allegro Optical, “the musician’s optician” MD Stephen Tighe, talks to Cory Band’s Flugelhorn player and good friend of the musician’s optician, Helen Williams.

Cory Band Helen Williams wearing David Green Eyewear

ST – Helen, how have you coped with lock-down?

I’m fortunate to be in lockdown with my best friend, (and husband!), Glyn. So, apart from a few business and financial worries that we’re coping with by being extra savvy at the moment, it has been OK…, well apart from not going to rehearsals and giving concerts. That is what we’re missing almost as much as our families!

ST – We’ve noticed lots of online activity from you, Glyn and the band. How was the interactive experience for you?

We have been craving the performance element of our lives, so having projects to work on with Cory and the individual things we have been doing, has been helping a lot. We’ve tried using the Acapella App… and really enjoyed the process. What a brilliant practice tool it has turned into! Listening back to recordings has helped work on tuning and ensemble. The aspects of playing that we almost do without thinking, whilst in a band rehearsal or performance and something we are missing most. I’ve taught myself several new IT skills involved with recording and editing, using (new to me) software apps, and enjoyed doing it as I’ve had the time on my hands to do it properly!

ST – How have your specialist musicians’ glasses helped? Or Since coming to Allegro, have our lenses helped with your playing and previous eye-sight issues?

To be honest, I really couldn’t do without my glasses from Allegro. I would liken it to having had my failing eyesight, (due to my age), totally corrected. I wear my glasses all the time. Not only can I see my music on my stand as I practice, rehearse, and teach, but also when I’m performing as a soloist. This is when I’m using my left eye more than my right (dominant eye), because of the nature and positioning of my instrument. It’s very important to have this knowledge, as you stand in front of an audience that you are going to be able to see what you’re playing. Then literally, all you have to do is perform! I wear my glasses for driving, watching TV, using the computer…ALL THE TIME.

ST – Would you recommend our in-depth consultation process to other musicians?

The consultation process was key to finding a solution to my very particular difficulties with wearing glasses to read music. There was some trial and error involved, but Sheryl quickly got to grips with what I needed, (and the solutions required to overcome my problems), and found the perfect solution for me. I cannot recommend Allegro highly enough and have done so lots of times!

ST – What’s with the stamp collecting?

This will follow me to my grave now won’t it?!?!? It is literally something I’ve always said just before going on stage in a contest. Just when the apprehension reaches its peak, the moment you are about to step on stage, another less perilous hobby springs to mind. I mentioned it when we were making the SkyArts documentaries in 2018 and they edited just that one comment from me into the titles for each programme. If I had £1 for every time someone has mentioned it to me since…

ST – You chose a handcrafted David Green eyewear frame, what attracted you to these frames?

I like the design of the frame and the ones I chose are a change from my usual glasses. I’m a creature of habit and a bit of a plain Jane normally, always going for the same or similar. My new frames are just a bit different for me.

David Green eyewear Cerris - Helen Williams frame

ST: Is the idea of low impact and environmentally friendly eyewear important to you?

Environmentally friendly is not something I had ever really considered before when looking at new eyewear, but what a fabulous idea. I’m delighted that my new frames fall into this category!

ST: Isn’t it a bit of a coincidence that you chose a handcrafted frame by David Green Eyewear considering your childhood nickname?

For many years at school, my nickname was “Green-eye”….not surprisingly because my eyes are greenish, (though I think they’re getting browner as I age!). It’s totally appropriate that my eyewear should be from David Green Eyewear!

ST: You’ve been visiting Allegro Optical, the musician’s optician for some time now, and it’s quite a trek from Wales, why do you feel, as a musician, that specialist eye care is important?

It takes about 4 ½ hours for us to get from South Wales to Allegro Optical, but having an optician who understands and can come up with solutions to some very musician specific problems, is an absolute godsend. Why would I go elsewhere?

Helen WIlliams of Cory Band and Sheryl Doe the musicians optician at the Sage Brass in Concert

ST – Can you see how our in-depth “musician focused” eye-care can prolong a musician’s career?

Being able to see the music is vital to musicians. Losing that ability is frustrating at best and totally disabling at worst. I wouldn’t be able to continue playing for Cory Band without my glasses specifically tailored for me by Allegro. Fact!

Why do musicians come to Allegro Optical?

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

Now known internationally as the ‘Musician’s Opticians’ we are attracting many clients from across Europe and further afield. Our groundbreaking work with performers, players and conductors have resulted in Allegro Optical becoming the first and only opticians to gain registration with the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM). We are currently working with Bapam and The Royal College of Music Healthy Performer project. As part of the project, the Royal College of Music has commissioned Twenty-five short films, one of which features Allegro Optical. Although the release of the film has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The films feature specialist healthcare and medical professionals talking about their area of expertise. As part of the Healthy Conservatoires Network, the films will provide practical advice to help performers recognise symptoms and give preventative advice or discuss treatments available for common conditions.

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

Award-winning eye-care

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

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

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

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

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Life in lock-down by Josie Dawson

How my life has changed in lock-down

Josie Dawson, Allegro Optical Opticians in Meltham

Well here we are entering week seven of lock-down and for many of us, life has changed completely. My daily routine has changed beyond all recognition as has my working environment. I now work mostly from home on admin and involves processing invoices and payments. Although I have been into the practices to receive PPE deliveries and deliveries of essential equipment for when we re-open. I’ve been there for tradesmen and engineers who have been installing new equipment and additional electrical sockets.

Although we’re not providing eye tests currently, we are working towards it. The guidelines surrounding our future re-opening means that we have had to buy and install a lot of new equipment. From the installation of sneeze and cough guard screens and the fitting of ozone generators. From the new UV sanitisers and performing a deep clean, I’m keeping very busy.

A change of image

The two practices have changed in appearance as our beautifully upholstered chairs have been replaced by easy-clean seating. We have had a complete redesign to allow for social distancing. This will ensure that no one has to be within 2 metres of each other. We just need to find somewhere for the thank you cards now!

New covid-19 practice layout in meltham

The appearance of the team will change also, once we return to work. All client-facing team members will change into scrubs as soon as they arrive in practice to prevent the risk of infection. This is to ensure that our staff and clients stay as safe as possible. Our Optometrists will also wear surgical gowns when seeing clients and due to a lack of supply, I have been busy making those. I love sewing so have been more than happy to help in this time of need.

Things are changing in the test rooms too. We have installed breath protectors on the slit lamps and screens around some of the test equipment. We’ve also rearranged the rooms to minimise the time spent in an enclosed area. We have also arranged for all our test rooms to have ozone generators fitted. The ozone generators are being used to thoroughly sanitize and kill COVID-19, other viruses, and bacteria throughout the eye examination. In addition to the thorough cleaning and sanitising of the consultation room the Ozone Generators quietly produce ozone which kills bacteria and viruses. When pollutants meet ozone, oxidation reactions occur destroying any infection risk.

We're installing OZone Generators in our opticians practices in Meltham and Saddleworth

Changes in the test room

Our optometrists all prefer to use a trial frame when testing a clients vision, as they are much more accurate than the Japanese 3-metre remote control lens selector systems, otherwise known as phoropter heads. Even though the phoropter heads allow our optometrists to maintain appropriate distancing when performing refraction, the results are rarely as accurate. The elderly and children often struggle to use them and our musicians cannot get their instruments behind them. For this reason, we have decided to continue using the trial frames. Sheryl and Steve have purchased a frame steriliser for both Greenfield and Meltham, which takes about 5 minutes to sterilise the trial frames and lenses. The advantage of these is that we will also be able to sterilise all the display frames after our clients have tried them on. 

Things have certainly changed within the last few months, not just at work, but in the supermarket and at home. One thing is for sure though, we will adapt. You can rest assured that all of us at Allegro Optical will always put the safety of our clients and staff first. We can’t wait to welcome all our clients, colleagues and future customers back once the restrictions are lifted.

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Coming together in Lockdown

Lockdown, how being apart has brought us together

We’re now several weeks into lockdown, with “the good old days” starting to feel somewhat nostalgic. Just like a warm and comforting distant memory.  The Allegro Optical team have been filling their lockdown days with a combination of music-making, looking after their families and in Josie’s case, still working in the background keeping our accounts and admin department together. 

To be honest, the prospect of closing our practices left Sheryl and Amy having a bit of a meltdown. The prospect of not going to work horrified them both. Neither relished the idea of either working from home, or being furloughed. Now there’s a word none of us had used before March. It now trips off the tongue with alarming familiarity. In early March’ all the social distancing, sanitising everything, hand-washing to the tune of Happy Birthday, were by then the norm and fairly easy to cope with. Even when the glazing lab shut down with less than 24 hours’ notice, resulting in huge delays to jobs currently on order, we soldiered. Providing essential, urgent and emergency eye care and repairs only. 

Many of our team viewed the prospect of weeks of lockdown with only their nearest and dearest for company with dread. As we all listened to prime minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on that first Monday evening we all realised life was about to change in a way none of us could ever have imagined. 

How we are coping

The business implications of the lockdown have been a challenge and daunting to say the least. With all of us worrying about our livelihoods and our family’s well being. We have had to try to work out how to keep Allegro Optical running successfully. Protect our employee’s jobs, and continue to be there for our customers. However, as the lockdown continues and we all begin to feel the effects of the virus in our lives. The mood is now one of deeply felt solidarity. 

Luckily we have always been pretty adaptable. Now a few weeks in, a fair few of us are counting our blessings.  Firstly, Sheryl and I have been given the time to review our business. We’ve looked at implementing some changes.  Maybe even change Allegro Optical’s business model going forward. Obviously we will continue to give the excellent service we have become known for.

Secondly, by closing the practices to the public, Sheryl has been able to get out and help our clients. Many of whom have in the past struggled to get into us. Often because of mobility issues or poor health. It has been an honour and a privilege to be able to help our more vulnerable clients at a time of real need. Sheryl has really enjoyed the opportunity to help these clients.  Many of whom are self-isolating and don’t see anyone for days on end. Even from a safe distance, they have appreciated the contact.

Sheryl running errands

Thirdly, the musical members of the team, myself included, have embraced the opportunity to make music. We have shared the results and paid tribute to all the amazing key workers keeping our country going at this difficult time. James has made some fabulous Acapella videos which we have shared on social media. He was even featured by the Oldham Chronicle following his first video. 

Zoom away while staying at home

Our team has all kept in touch thanks to Zoom and a team WhatsApp group which we will probably continue to use long after the lockdown has lifted. In a way, these virtual get-togethers seem to have helped cement us as a team and have helped the teams from both practices to come together as one. I believe that the staff team are now a closer-knit community than they have ever been.

Allegro Optical Zoom away

After the initial adjustment, and as we have all adapted to the restrictions lockdown brings, the possibilities going forward seemed almost endless.

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Look after your vision after “Low Vision Month”

“Low Vision Month” is a time to look after your vision

As a provider of prescription eyewear to clients worldwide, we at Allegro Optical like to keep abreast of eye health protocols internationally. This way we can provide the very best care, and up to date advice when required.

 Some of our blog readers may, (or may not), be aware that in America, February is AMD / Low Vision Awareness month, in line with their “2020 Prevent Blindness eye health and safety observances”. This got my cogs turning. Although this is an American Care Scheme, surely it can only be a good thing for people to be aware of what low vision is. Below I have written a very brief introduction and offered some key information that I think we should all know about it.

Amy Ogden, Optometrist at Allegro Optical Opticians in Saddleworth and Holmfirth, explaines why she likes the 3D OCT scanner so much

What is low vision?

Low vision is when eyesight is impaired so much that carrying out simple tasks. Things like making a cup of tea, reading the paper, or even recognising faces, is made difficult. These tasks cannot be made easier with the use of spectacles, as they can no longer improve vision to the standard necessary to carry out these basic tasks. 

In the UK, Ophthalmologists classify low vision into two categories;

  1. Sight Impaired (SI) (referred to as partially sighted) 
  2. Severely Sight Impaired (SSI) (blind).  

With this condition, a GP or Optician will refer you to an Ophthalmologist for registration. The Ophthalmologist will measure your best-corrected vision (vision with glasses or contact lenses on) or VA’s (visual acuities). They will then carry out a visual fields test, then classify you accordingly.   If you are interested in the requirements for classification, please refer to the RNIB website which has them listed.

Being classified as blind doesn’t necessarily mean that person has no vision. This is a common misconception. Don’t be alarmed if a person registered blind can still see what colour top you have on.

What happens after registration?

If you are registered as either SI or SSI, this then entitles you to a certificate of visual impairment (CVI). This can help with the provision of extra funding for low vision aids. It can also help provide the support required to enhance the lives of those suffering from low vision. 

I would like to add as a side note, that social services will also do an assessment on those suffering from vision problems. Even for those who do not quite meet the requirements for registration. Again for a full listing of the help entitlement for those with a CVI have a look online. But for a few examples it does entitle you to a carers cinema pass, disabled person’s railcard and reduced or free bus pass. You may also be entitled to blind persons tax allowance (SSI) and the list continues…

Why does Low Vision happen?

Low vision can be caused by lots of things. It may be something you are born with due to a complication during development in the womb (eg retinopathy of prematurity). Low vision may happen during childhood due to an eye condition (eg infantile glaucoma) or trauma. It may happen in later life due to either an eye condition such as macular degeneration or glaucoma. It may happen due to infection. There are multiple different reasons for low vision, and not every person is the same. 

Can we prevent Low vision?

There isn’t an easy answer.

Some of the causes of Low Vision in the past are now treatable. For example, many people find themselves having cataract surgery in their older years. Having regular diabetic screenings, and good diabetic control can help in the prevention of diabetic retinopathy, which is a cause of low vision for some diabetics.

Regular sight tests can help in the monitoring and screening process for diseases such as AMD and glaucoma. This is particularly important where EARLY diagnosis is KEY for maintaining good sight. Making use of our 3D OCT scanner in your regular sight test will help. It can certainly AID in even earlier detection of those aforementioned pathologies.

Amy Ogden, Optometrist at Allegro Optical Opticians in Saddleworth and Holmfirth, explaines why she likes the 3D OCT scanner so much 3D OCT eye scans from Allegro Optical Opticians in Meltham

With some conditions, for example, Retinitis Pigmentosa or Keratoconus prevention isn’t so much the issue. But the improvements in medical science and revolutionary treatments have helped in this battle for sight. 

Contact lens wearers can help protect themselves against sight-threatening infections by ensuring good lens hygiene and compliance. If you need a refresher please feel free to come and see us. We will happily run a contact lens refresher course with you. 

What can be done for low vision?

For low vision, much of the treatment is about managing expectations and optimising the remaining sight available to the person. There are low vision clinics available at the hospital and in some high street practices which teach a range of techniques. For example; 

eccentric fixation – how to use the non-damaged sections of the retina see better; magnifier use – there are many types for different tasks; 

use of home help appliances for example – liquid level indicator for making drinks;  use of telescopes – (not to see to the stars) these are similar to the peephole on your door and help with distance vision.

Many of those with low vision use a  cane, (there are lot’s and lots of types). Some use one as a symbol cane – which is thin and white, often carried to alert others to the fact they have low vision. There is also cane with a rollerball, often described as a second pair of eyes. These help the user to feel the texture of the floor, and be aware of any upcoming drops or raising in the walkway, helping prevent falls. Colours of canes can have different meanings, but they can also be to the desire of the user, (if you had a cane you might want to match it to your personality too). The RNIB #HOWISEE has a fabulous video on canes as told by their users, which you might want to watch. 

And finally…

My main advice is to have regular sight tests, and if you notice any changes in your vision to get yourself checked straight away. Don’t wait until it is too late, keep on top of your vision and help keep your eyes as healthy as possible. That way those preventable diseases are kept away, and those conditions where early treatment is KEY are nipped in the bud.

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Flipping Heck Pancake Day is here

Pancake day will soon be here – Xanthe looks at what it’s all about

Pancake day is upon us, bringing with it the first day of lent and it got me thinking. Isn’t it weird that we have a day devoted to stuffing our faces with pancakes? Then the very next day we give something up?! So of course, I had to look into this further. I wanted to find out why we shovel pancakes down us. Followed by 40 days of giving something up we’d much rather keep. See when you put it like that it does sound kind of mad.

Shrove Tuesday

Pancake day also known as Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. On Shrove Tuesday we consume pancakes. The way this came about was for the sole reason of getting rid of fat, eggs and milk. Products which were seen as luxuries and would have then be given up for Lent.  Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent and it lasts for 40 days. Shrove Tuesday came from the Roman Catholic practice of “shriven” where a bell was rung from the church. The bell, known as the pancake bell would call people to come to confess their sins and then conduct Shrovetide. By conducting Shrovetide they would prepare for lent by removing temptations from their homes.

Shrove Tuesday always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday. The date varies from year to year and falls between February 3rd and March 9th. Now, while looking into this day I found that the ingredients used to make pancakes are actually symbols of significance.  Eggs symbolise creation, flour is seen as the staff of life, salt represents wholesomeness and milk is seen as purity. I bet you didn’t realise pancakes were so important and significant. I certainly didn’t!

 A bit of history

Lent is a fascinating religious season where it is commonly observed with ashes and fasting. In the early days of the Christian church, the length of lent and how it fell each year varied. However, by the 7th century, 4 days were added so it lasted 40 days to imitate the fast Jesus undertook in the desert. A practice in Rome involving grievous sinners began on the first day of Lent in the hope of absolving their sins. This eventually turned into taking part in a ritual known as Eucharist where bread and wine were consumed. During the ceremony, sinners wore sackcloth and were sprinkled with ashes. They were forced to remain apart from loved ones and other people until they were allowed back into their community on the Thursday before Easter, also known as Maundy Thursday.

By the 10th century, the placing of ashes on the heads of the entire congregation began to be observed instead. Today we still practice some of the  “shriven” rituals by giving up our own believed temptations, be they food, alcohol, cigarettes etc. The practices of Ash Wednesday, where the shape of a cross is drawn on the forehead and is a day of fasting and abstinence are still observed by many. Many faithful only eat one full meal and no meat is to be consumed.

How will you eat yours?

So, whether you can’t flipping wait (see what I did there) to stuff your face with pancakes. Or if you are psyching yourself up to giving up something you love, it’s Diet Coke for me this year (I am a little addicted). Why not send us a tweet at @AllegroOptical. Or follow us on Instagram @allegrooptical to see what we get up to as a team. Feel free to tag us in your post of pancake goodness or your lent struggles.

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Celebrating Great British Design

MD Stephen Tighe explains why we love Great British Design

When we set up Allegro Optical Ltd, we had three simple initial tenants or goals for the business:-

  • Customer Service First, last and always
  • Professional Staff with great skills and experience
  • Support Great “British” Design and Build as much as possible

A couple of years ago we discovered one very special British frame supplier, ASHTON RILEY. The company was founded by Brett Waugh and the brand named after his son, Ashton Riley. 

“Naming the collection after my son and using his favourite animal in the logo, (a gorilla), Ashton Riley eyewear is designed in London to reflect the needs of the consumers and to ensure it could be delivered at a price that was accessible to all”.

Our goals matched the way that they think! For example, they said when they first set up:-

 “After countless hours in optical practices, listening to the feedback on collections available in the market, it was very clear what was needed. High-quality frames in shapes that would fit as many people as possible. Whilst still delivering something that is interesting and catches the eye of the consumer”. 

In the beginning

Launching in November 2018 with 12 styles, the collection was immediately well received. Our clients in Meltham  loved the new range and once we opened in Greenfield it was equally well received. With new styles and colours added every 6-8 weeks, the collection has grown substantially. The Ashton Riley collection provides interesting but wearable shapes which are complemented by rich acetate colours.

Ashton Riley York from Allegro Optical Opticians

Balanced stainless steel frames with sophisticated detailing and interesting colour combinations ensure that most tastes are met. The design and quality, along with a very reasonable price have been very popular with our customers, both sides of the Pennines. 

Buy British

Our customers like the fact that where possible we try to keep the air miles down and support British Business.  Not for us, the mass-produced “designer” brands churned out from the many spectacle frame factories in China. We like something a little different. Spectacle frame giant Luxottica proudly features its Dongguan plant in Guangdong province, which produces over 200,000 RayBan’s a day, on its website. Not exactly exclusive!

By supporting British we are keeping jobs in the UK and giving our customers something a little more exclusive at a very reasonable price. And it won’t cost the Earth!  

Wearing a British Brand is a great experience and allows you to stand out from the crowd. If you would like to experience Great British Design and award-winning eyecare just give us a call in Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090

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Look after your eyes and treat them to the best 

Today we talk about how to look after your eyes

Did you know that in America February is Low Vision Awareness Month? In the UK many of us make sure we have regular eye examinations, but how many of us think about our long term eye health?  It is so easy to overlook your eyes when it comes to caring for your health, however, there are a few simple things you can do every day to help keep your eyes healthy now and in the future. Many eye conditions can lead to reduced vision so here are some easy ways to look after your eyes. 

Low vision and how to protect your eye health

 

Eat healthily

Eating a healthy, balanced diet reduces our risk of getting some pretty serious eye disease. Try to include plenty of omega-3 fats, these can be found in oily fish. Another nutrient is lutein, this can be found in dark-green, leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach. A green veg and beetroot slaw is perfect. Vitamins A, C and E are also very good in maintaining good eye health. It is advisable to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, particularly if you have a family history of macular degeneration (losing central vision in the eyes). 

Raw beet salad

 

Avoid dry eyes

In today’s world or air conditioning, electronic devices, long working hours our eyes can become dry, tired and sore. Often we don’t produce enough tears or some of us have poor-quality tears. Air-conditioning, central heating, and computer use can make dry eye symptoms worse. Many adults suffer from dry eyes due to a health condition or medication. 

Lubricating eye drops can help soothe the irritation and reduce discomfort. Taking omega-3 supplements can also help over time. Drinking plenty of water and remembering to blink often can also help. But if your eyes are persistently dry, always tell your optometrist.

Say goodbye to dry eyes with Allegro Optical Optician in Greenfield Saddleworth and Meltham Holmfirth

Take regular breaks

When we work on something up close, such as a computer, a tablet or a smartphone, our eye muscles are very active. This can cause tiredness and even headaches, even for people with perfect vision. In 2020 the 20/20/20 rule is as relevant as ever – every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds. Don’t forget to blink, this helps prevent our eyes from drying out.

Did you know that the law states that employers must arrange an eye test for display screen equipment (DSE) users if they ask for one, and provide glasses if an employee needs them only for DSE use?

Rodenstock computer glasses

DSE work does not cause permanent damage to eyes. But long spells of DSE work can lead to:

  • tired eyes
  • discomfort
  • temporary short-sightedness
  • Headaches

DSE work is visually demanding, so it can make someone aware of eyesight problems they have not noticed before (including changes in eyesight that happen with age).

Employees can help their eyes by:

  • checking the screen is well-positioned and properly adjusted
  • making sure lighting conditions are suitable
  • taking regular breaks from screen work

STOP SMOKING

Even in this day and age of healthy living, many people are unaware of the link between smoking and eye disease. Smoking significantly increases the risk of developing eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. However long you have smoked it’s never too late to benefit from quitting.

Stop smoking

It could be in the genes

Many eye conditions run in families, these can be anything from simple long and short-sightedness to more serious conditions, such as glaucoma. Knowledge of relatives problems with sight can help optometrists detect a condition before it becomes serious. They can assess the problem and, if necessary, refer clients to the right place for treatment.

3D OCT from Allegro Optical Opticians long

Make time to have regular eye examinations

At Allegro Optical it’s not just a sight test, it’s an eye health check too.  An in-depth eye examination can detect signs of underlying general health conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. We all should have an eye examination every two years, or more often if your optometrist recommends it. 

‪Did you know we’re the only Optician in Saddleworth with two qualified Dispensing Opticians & 3 qualified Optometrists who work together to provide award-winning eyecare. Our optometrists can detect Glaucoma, Diabetes, Macular Degeneration, Cataract, and much more. Thanks to our 3D OCT scan they can detect these conditions up to four years earlier than traditional methods. It doesn’t just stop with the eye examination. Our DIspensing Opticians are all qualified professionals and are registered with the General Optical Council. At many optical outlets, glasses are dispensed by unqualified staff or optical assistants. This can lead to serious errors and affect your vision. ‪Always make sure you’re tested & dispensed by qualified professionals‬.

Award-winning eye-care

In the last twelve months, Allegro Optical has 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 was a finalist in the AOP Dispensing Optician of the year 2020. Allegro Optical’s cutting edge approach to dispensing and their musical experience has led to the team being shortlisted for the prestigious Opticians Awards, Optical Assistant team of the year 2020

Allegro Optical the musicians optician Sheryl winning Dispensing Optician of the Year 2019 Award for their work with Musicians eye care

During March 2019, Allegro Optical was awarded the ‘Scale-Up Business of the Year‘ at the regional finals of the Federation of Small Business awards in York, then went on to receive the FSB Chairman’s award at the national finals in May. Finally winning the FBU Yorkshire family business of the year. Allegro Optical’s unique optical solution and our cutting edge approach to dispensing has led to the group being named finalists in the Huddersfield Examiner’s Business Awards in the Innovation and Enterprise category.

Allegro Optical Opticians winners of the FSB chairmans Awards Saddleworth and Holmfirt

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 either Greenfield on 01457 353100 or Meltham on 01484 907090.

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Xanthe looks at how our New Year resolutions are helping others

Our New Year Resolutions helping Worthy Causes

It’s January, it’s a new year, a new decade and how are your new year resolutions going! The new year as always brings the usual new year resolutions. Be they get fitter, lose weight, maybe give something up or adopt some new healthier habits.  Here at Allegro Optical we thought rather than do the norm we’d do something a little different. While we’re doing it we will  help some worthy causes in the process. This year Allegro Optical will be supporting and promoting the On Song Community Choir and Speed of Sight. On Song Choir a choir helping its members suffering with Parkinson’s Disease and their families to cope with this difficult disease. Speed of Sight is a charity which provides disabled people aged 6 to 90 and their families to take part in driving experiences. An experience which is  taken for granted by the able-bodied. If you’d like to know more about either causes then please give our blogs a read. Now as a way to help and support these two wonderful causes we’ve decided to do a sponsored slim!

Huddersfield On Song Parkinsons Choir

Speed of sight driving experience supported by Allegro Optical 3 Speed of Sight driving experiences both on track and off road throughout the UK to blind and disabled adults and children

Pounds for £

Yes, you read that correctly quite a few of us team members are doing a sponsored slim. What is a sponsored slim you ask? Well that’s a very good question! Quite frankly I had the same question when Sheryl asked if I’d like to take part. As a team we’ll be losing weight and in the process, raise money for Speed of Sight and On Song Choir. While trimming those pounds we’ll be giving the pounds to worthy causes (Personally that’s a win win for me!). I also will personally be donating £1 for every pound I lose. 

Allegro Support team. CLaire, James, JIll, Josie

 

A Whole New Team Building Exercise

So, as a whole team we’re hoping to lose lots of pounds. We’ll help each other reach our goals and help two wonderful causes. We have Abi to lend a helping hand with our dieting. Abi has recently lost an incredible six and a half stone in just 18 months. For any running tips we’ll head straight to Amy and Gemma who are both keen runners. Amy recently ran the Loch Ness marathon to raise money for the AMMF cancer charity last year, in memory of her Dad.  I am sure Amy and Gemma will also help to keep everyone motivated. I myself plan to train and run a 5k this summer. I’ll be raising money for both causes (pray for my feet and legs). Later in the year the whole team will be doing a sponsored  trek to the summit of Snowdon. Once at the top we plan to do something you’ve probably have never seen on the top of a mountain before. Or are ever likely to again, but you’ll have to wait for that (no spoilers). 

Bring On The Sweat

We will of course be keeping you all updated of our progress, with pictures of us sweating those pounds off and how many pounds will be turning into £ regularly. If you would like to support these two wonderful causes then you can find out all about them by visiting our blog for regular updates. I will be tracking the teams progress for you all to read and posting details of how you can support and promote them too. 

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Allegro Optical 100%

We’ve had a bit of a break away this weekend as some of the Allegro team visited 100% Optical. Established in 2014, 100% Optical has quickly become the largest optical event in the UK. With over 9000 visitors and more than 200 exhibitors, this was an event we have been keen to attend for sometime.

So this weekend the Saddleworth team packed their bags and we set off for London. 100 % Optical gives us the opportunity to search for some new frames, catch up with our current suppliers, meet new ones and catch up with other professionals in the optical industry. We also took along James’ new anti-gravity selfie stick to film the event and below are some of the results.

Allegro Optical the musicians optician at 100% Optical

While at the event we met up with Caron Eyewear, whose beautiful frames are created by internationally renowned eyewear designer Caron Kraitt, right here in the heart of London. We are always looking for something different for our clients and this collection is just that. All the frames in the Caron Eyewear collection are designed to enhance and perfect the relationship between the face and the eyewear. Caron’s frames are inspired by and celebrate modern women. Those who are not afraid to flaunt their natural femininity and beauty while proudly showing their personal strength and independence.

We’ve ordered some of Carons beautiful frames and they will be arriving in store very soon. So keep your eyes open and watch this space for the arrival of these beautiful feminine frames.

It’s always good to meet up with some old friends, so we popped by to see David and Helen from David Green Eyewear. It’s always nice to see what new models David has launched since we last met and today was no exception. At Allegro Optical we love David Green Eyewear, with its unique incorporation of nature and sustainability.

While we were at 100% Optical we also called in to see our friends on the ABDO College stand and enrol James on his next course. We passionately believe that there is no substitute for formal training and our aim is to help James become the very best optical professional possible. Professionalism is the key and we believe that your eyecare is so important and you deserve to see a qualified professional at every step of your optical journey with us. James writes a regular blog about his studies and shares some of the more interesting things he gets up to.

No trip to an optical trade show would be complete without catching up with the iCET team, who provide all our optical professionals with onsite CET training. CET is a statutory requirement for all fully-qualified optometrists and dispensing opticians. The CET scheme is a points-based scheme that runs over a three-year cycle. Co-founder Stuart Wellings is a Dispensing Optician and the founder of iCET, he is also a  practical examiner for the Association of British Dispensing Opticians and featured in the #notjustado campaign just like our Sheryl.

On Sunday evening we attended the AOP awards. Sheryl was a finalist in the AOP2020 Dispensing Optician of the year. She didn’t win this year but is still very proud to be one of only three people to reach the finals.