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

Bob Hallett Eb Bass

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

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

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

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

Looking for a solution

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

The Exam

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

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

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

It’s all in the lenses

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

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

Perfectly Framed

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

The verdict

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

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

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

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

Why do musicians come to Allegro Optical?

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

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

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

Award-winning eye-care

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

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

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

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