A Visit to Bowden and Lowe Opticians
Afterwards, Lis’s husband Tim helped me to choose two pairs of glasses. This is the worst part for me as I get anxious about having to find the perfect, good-value pair that suits me, but when I’m under pressure I can’t actually tell what I like. Tim was a model of patience and tried his best to reassure me. He was also happy to advise and I ended up going with what he thought suited me. I’m very happy with both of my choices! As you will read below, Tim also told me a lot about the shop and its history.
Interview with Tim Bowden
TB: We bought the Gillingham practice in 2006, having previously owned practices since 1983 in Gravesend and Herne Bay. The Watling Street practice was originally established by Kenneth Beveridge in 1934 when this parade was first built and it has been an opticians practice ever since. We are the fourth incarnation.
LS: What makes you different from other opticians?
TB: We are now an endangered species as we are a fully independent practice with no head office to satisfy. We can deal with any manufacturer of our choice to give us the best quality and the best service. Lis and I have both been qualified for more years than we care to mention, so with that comes a vast degree of experience. My speciality is contact lenses and in 2009 I published the first and only complete history of the development of contact lenses (see here).
LS: How long have you been supporting the CRSO and why?
TB: We have been advertising in the concert programmes from around 1984 and been a sponsor for about 5 years. Lis joined the Rochester Arts Orchestra, the forerunner of the CRSO, around 1974 playing in the bass section. She has been the assistant treasurer for many years and for a short time I was the orchestra’s social secretary. Both our children, who are bass players, have played at one time or another with the orchestra and Norman Lowe, Lis’s father, still plays in the viola section.
LS: What do you like best about the orchestra?
TB: It means I have Monday nights at home on my own when Lis and her dad are out playing!
LS: What advice would you give to a musician about their eyesight?
TB: Really the same advice we would give to anyone, which is to have regular eye examinations at least every two years for adults and very six months for children. Over 80% of what we do at home, work or play is visual. If you cannot see very well this does increase the stresses and strains of modern daily life and impacts on your quality of life. Good lighting is important plus good ultra violet light protection in bright sunlight. Eating your 5 a day certainly impacts on general as well as optical health whereas smoking is the biggest detrimental effect not only on general health but it has been shown to be the biggest factor regarding the onset of macular degeneration. (Cheese is very good for vision; how many mice do you know who wear glasses…?)
LS: What do you pay attention to when a musician comes in for an eye examination?
TB: Pretty much the same as for any patient. We want to establish what they are doing with regard to occupation, sports, hobbies and pastimes and any previous medication or treatments that they may be receiving. With musicians we would want to know what instrument/s they play, whether solo or in groups or orchestras and whether they share stands and how far away the stand is. The requirements for say a solo flute would be different to a double bass player or a church organist. All have their specific requirements due to age, posture, how far the music is away and other factors. We have had players bring in their instrument, music and stand so this helps enormously. So far we have not had anyone bring in a piano or church organ; thankfully! Musicians may require different spectacles for playing as opposed to ordinary, everyday uses. The main factor is that we are all individuals and we need the right solution for that person.