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Biography of Frames

The Concept Eye Clinic blog keeps you up to date on all the news direct from the Concept flagship clinic in Gosforth High Street Newcastle. Offers, events and new collections. Be informed and be concept life.

Ferdinand Monoyer: the eye test and the dioptre

Sean Ho

newcastle opticians

On 9 May 1836, Ferdinand Monoyer was born in the historic city of Lyon in France. His father, a military doctor, could not have known that he would go on to become one of the most influential ophthalmologists in European history. Today, we at Concept celebrate Monoyer’s life on the occasion of his 181st birthday. Although you may not think you know much about Monoyer, it’s impossible to be unfamiliar with his most well-known invention: the Monoyer chart.

The Monoyer chart – or an adapted version of it – hangs in every optician’s practice the world over. It is intended to test what is known as “visual acuity” – that is, the clarity of one’s vision. The chart uses a gradually shrinking typeface, which allows opticians to assess how clear this vision is. Each of the rows of characters is set at a specific unit of measurement – the dioptre – which Monoyer also invented.

A dioptre is a unit of measurement of the optical power of a lens or a curved mirror, equal to the reciprocal of the focal length measured in meters. This may sound complicated at first, but it makes a little more sense when we look at the numbers. Essentially, a dioptre can be worked out by with this equation: 1/metres. In other words, a 3-dioptre lens brings parallel rays of light to focus at 1/3 metres. The Monoyer chart measures this by having its text set at different dioptres. If you begin to struggle at a particular line, an optician will be able to evaluate what dioptre you require in your lenses.

Monoyer himself had an enormously successful life. He began as an associate professor of Medical Physics at the Faculty of Medicine in the University of Strasbourg in 1871. Later, he went on to become the director of the Ophthalmic Clinic of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Nancy from 1872 to 1877 and Professor of medical physics at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Lyon from 1877 to 1909. Upon the occasion of his death in 1912, the President of the Société nationale de Médecine de Lyon concluded a session of the Société with a commemoration to Monoyer, stating that ‘To the memory of this scholar, the Medical Society bows with respect and sadness; she has lost a friend who was also her counselor who knew to think and to reflect.’ Concept would like to offer our sincere regard to this giant of optometry.

We’ll leave you with a final fact to remember Monoyer by. The Monoyer chart contains its inventor’s full name, hidden amongst the other letters it contains. Why not see if you can find it?

newcastle opticians

How we see light

Sean Ho

 Healthy eye

We live in exciting times. Already this year we’ve seen virtual reality eye tests and groundbreaking research into how patients view their optician. Well, we’re happy to let you know that we have another ground breaking piece of research into eyes to let you know about.

For the first time in human history, we have been able to pinpoint individual colour sensing cells in the eyes of living individuals. Not only this, we’ve been able to activate them.

This was published in a report for the journal Science Advances. A team of scientists used flashes of light to stimulate cells at the back of two men’s eyes. These cells are called cone cells and they are used to detect colour, or so we thought. In response to the flashes of light only some of the cone cells registered colour, others leaving only a sensation of whiteness with the men tested.

This is where the science gets a little bit more complicated. First of all, we need to understand that there are actually two sets of cells at the back of your eyes – cones and rods. Rod cells are adapted to help us see in the dark. They can’t detect colour, because our vision in the dark relies upon detecting tiny amounts of light. In the light rod cells become unresponsive. Cone cells detect bright light. In other words, you see with two different parts of your eye based upon how light it is around you.

Next: there are different types of cones. L-cones are sensitive to red and yellow light. These forms have longer wavelengths than other forms of light. M-cones absorb green light. S-cones detect shorter wavelengths, helping us to see blue light.

The paper in Science Advances, co-authored by Brian P. Schmidt, explains that the experiment reveals that large sections of the M- and L-cones detected white sensations when activated alone, whereas only a small fraction of L- and M-cones detected red or green. It’s important to understand that these results were consistent. Taking place over a number of weeks, tests always produced the same results – right down to the cell.

What this means is twofold. On the one hand, we now know that our eyes divide their labour very efficiently, separating cells into types of “job roles”. We also know that our eyes use different cells to detect colour than those cells used to detect brightness and form. This means that, theoretically, we detect light differently, interpreting an accumulation of data input into different receptors in nanoseconds.

All in all, we have to reach the conclusion that eyes are simply amazing things – complex organisms the study of which will never get old.

Delve Into the Unknown

Sean Ho

We at Concept love literature. You can probably tell from the amount that we’ve written about it. Well, it’s national book lover’s day so we thought that we’d look at something a little bit different to the standard “100 books you need to read before you die”, “what the Concept team are reading” or “why we love such-and-such a title” fare. Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the world’s most obscure works of literary genius.

 Literature art

Daniel Levin Becker is the youngest member of the Oulipo, a largely French speaking literary group that place constraints on their own writing. Ouilpo is an acronym for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, which roughly translates to “workshop of potential literature”. The group produces  littérature potentielle, which it defines as "the seeking of new structures and patterns which may be used by writers in any way they enjoy."

Getting an idea of what this means is simpler than it might sound. The Oulipo use a series of, generally mathematical, constraints on their writing in order to inspire them to write. Here are a few examples that they’ve developed over the years:

1.       S+7, sometimes called N+7: Replace every noun in a text with the seventh noun after it in a dictionary. For example, "Call me Ishmael. Some years ago..." becomes "Call me islander. Some yeggs ago...". Results will vary depending upon the dictionary used. This technique can also be performed on other lexical classes, such as verbs.

2.       Don’t use the letter ‘e’: Georges Perec’s novel La disparition and its English translation, The Void, don’t utilise the letter ‘e’ even once in their 300 pages.

3.       Conceptual: Raymond Queneau's Exercices de Style recounts the same inconsequential episode ninety-nine times, where a man witnesses an inconsequential altercation. Each retelling is from an entirely different narrative voice.

Becker’s book is a history of this movement and, based on his sense of humour, he’s the perfect person to tell such a bizarre story. Why not read his description of the conditions for membership and make up your own mind?

One becomes a member first by attending one of the Oulipo’s monthly meetings as a guest of honor and presenting whatever it is of one’s work that dovetails with oulipian interests, then by being unanimously elected by the group. One can avoid becoming a member very easily: by asking to be a member and thereby becoming permanently ineligible for membership. After one is inducted one cannot quit or be kicked out; the only official way to leave the group is to commit suicide for no purpose other than to leave the group, and to do so in the presence of a notary. A few people have distanced themselves from the group’s activities by just sort of ceasing to participate, but they’re still officially considered members, just inactive ones. This includes dead members.

 T.S. Eliot photograph

The literary canon has a habit of excluding women. So, whilst this blog was just going to look at novels and books, we made the decision to take a look at a woman history has discarded.

Vivienne Eliot was married to T.S. Eliot. That’s where most people’s knowledge of her ends. She was involved with the Bloomsbury group, although not much liked: Virginia Woolf once called her “the bag of ferrets Tom wears around his neck”. She also wrote a great deal of short stories, mostly autobiographical, which the Bloomsberg group and Tom described condescendingly as an activity to calm her “nerves”. The vindictive attitude toward Vivienne shown here is repeated throughout her life. Notably, the journal that she co-edited with her husband, The Criterion, was cancelled after complaints that it unveiled too much of the personal lives of her contemporaries. When it began again, renamed as The New Criterion, she was banned from contributing.

The Eliot’s divorce was brutal. Tom instructed his business partners and friends to cut off all contact with her, to avoid any mention of where he might. Her mental health, unsurprisingly, had already deteriorated considerably and she spent the rest of her life moving through asylums. Even today it is impossible to gain access to the majority of her writing without asking the permission of Tom’s second, now deceased, wife Valerie. The best we have is the heartbreaking advert that she tried to place in a newspaper after the more famous Eliot left her:

Will T.S Eliot please return to his home, 68 Clarence Gate Gardens, which he abandoned Sept. 17th, 1932.

 Poetry art

Space poetry hasn’t ever really been in fashion. Perhaps now, with the growing popularity of science fiction, superheroes and supernatural thrillers we might finally be ready for Harry Martinson’s Aniara. We catch digital animals on our phones so this can’t be that far-fetched anymore, can it?

Well, Aniara stretches for 103 cantos. Its subject? The terrible tragedy that awaits a 4,750 m (15,580 ft) long and 891 m (2,923 ft) wide space ship. Originally, this vessel was now headed for Mars, complete with a cargo of colonists. Unfortunately, an accident causes it to get knocked off course, sending it out of the solar system and into an existential crisis. Whilst you might have heard the plot before, you definitely haven’t seen it done like this. We warn you: it’s weird.

With all the high-strung thousands here on board
it’s good to hear the placid intonation
of our astronomer when he reports
on pre-goldondic times and glaciations.

Whatever you’re reading today, we hope you’ve enjoyed our list. It’s also possible that you might need some glasses to keep up with Oulipo experiments, the desperate plight of women through history or cosmic jaunts told via epic poetry. If so, we’ve got you covered. Come in and get tested for a varifocal lens in Gosforth or Tynemouth. These lenses fill the role of both distance and reading glasses, making reading easier on the go.

Window Art

Sean Ho

At Concept, we always like to give our window displays a sublime edge. Big, brazen and unique – we like to think of them as an avant-garde in advertising. Lee’s work does the job wonderfully. He creates layered pieces that catch the eye, all with a quality of fine art. Take a look for yourself! You can see our latest display, which plays on a psychedelic noir profile, here now!

 Window art optician 
 Window art optician

However, you mustn’t think we’re pioneers in this respect. The window display has long been a vibrant, inventive and shocking mode of artistic expression, one sadly neglected in art circles. We at Concept would like to invite you to join us as we delve into a few examples of stunning window displays at the forefront of contemporary design.

 Selfridges art window

Selfridges’ “breathing window”, by Studio Souffle (London, 2013)

As part of their “No Noise” campaign that ran in the first two months of 2013, Selfridges commissioned Studio Souffle to create this astounding piece of work. Aside from the elegance and simplicity of this design, one that plays on the minimalist tradition, this was a display that worked in motion. A series of inflationary and deflationary fans operated in tandem to give the impression that the window was breathing, a design choice that very much distilled the essence of the “No Noise” campaign. The campaign was all about relaxation, taking time to pause, letting yourself breathe. The window was its physical embodiment.

 Love window art

Johnnie Walker, “Where Flavour is King”, by LOVE (London, 2012)

Although this display was, again, installed in Selfridges, it comes from the whiskey brand Johnnie Walker. Design company LOVE put this together to advertise the brand in the lead up to Christmas, 2012, and it is extravagant. Every aspect of the design communicates an aspect of the Johnnie Walker brand: its extravagance is a rubber stamp of approval to the luxury and glamour of the brand; the almost vaudeville components that come together here lend a certain mystery and darkness to the brand – a tint of the unknown; the colour pallet screams Christmas. It even comes with a video!

 Alice in wonderland

Fortnum and Mason, “Alice in Wonderland” (2006)

This was the Fortnum and Mason window display for Christmas in 2006. It stands as a stunning example of what a diversity of art is possible in constructing a window display. There is no clear pitch involved in this installation and, more importantly, there doesn’t need to be. The design work here is magical, really capturing the excitement of Lewis Carroll’s classic story. In a word, this is a work of unashamed joy, frivolity and beauty. It works because of how seriously it takes Oscar Wilde’s notion of “art for art’s sake”, emphatically refusing to adopt a utilitarian message and allowing itself to be carried into the communal joy of Christmas time. 


Sean Ho

Italia Independent

 italia independent glasses


A light weight titanium masterpiece, this Italia Independent model is bold, quirky and unforgettable. Its fresh fuchsia colour is adorned with a leather-look finish to really give it that individual edge Italia Independent is all about. Its sharp feminine curves make this the perfect frame for those wanting to unleash some understated confidence!



 Orgreen glasses frame


Hand crafted out of the lightest titanium, this Danish frame is feather-weight. 'Bettie' may just be one of the smoothest looks in the Orgreen collection. Its design is inspired by 1960s counter culture. The rich, navy front married with two soft gold sides is vintage, yet timeless.


Oliver Peoples

 Oliver Peoples glasses frame


This retro inspired Oliver Peoples frame takes the timeless 'round' to a whole new level. Crafted out of acetate, boasting a keyhole bridge and a soft sable hue, this light weight spectacle is perfect for every occasion.


This summer is about colour, classical narrative and innovation. Visit either our Gosforth or Tynemouth clinics and fall in love with the frame right for you!


One of our expert stylists can help you find the perfect match. In addition to stylish consultation we can offer you a first class sight examination. Book you appointment this week and your test will also include a full OCT scan.


Tynemouth: 0191 296 6124

Gosforth: 0191 285 1603

The Art Of The Optometrist

Sean Ho

 Newcastle opticians art

The art of the optometrist is Concept’s mantra, a fitting status for a forward thinking eye clinic. The creative team behind the curtains work hard in achieving something that most clinics don’t dare to do. Be different. We produce all concept artwork in-house, from illustration to photography. We hand craft our campaigns and window displays; perhaps you have seen our recent display or the advert in Living North magazine?


We are like no other optometrists, from the moment you walk through the door you can feel how person centered we are. Our team looks after you, your style, the health of your eyes, and they may even open a bottle of prosecco in celebration of your new sparkly frames. That’s how we do it here.


Join #conceptlife.

Book your appointment with us this week either in our Tynemouth or Gosforth clinic and you will never look back.




“You always look after me, I'm so blessed, thank you.”


“Fantastic clinic, great service and staff, always makes me feel welcomed.”


“I have always received top quality service and have built a lovely rapport with the staff. Well recommended!”


“Shop looks really good, very comfortable and fashionable furniture! Eye examination was conducted very professionally!”


“Just got new glasses-perfect! Superb service from the stylish Gabriel and colleague, Rahil. Many thanks. Will visit soon.”


“As a regular customer, I always find all staff very helpful and nothing is too much trouble..”


Gosforth: 0191 285 1603

Tynemouth: 0191 296 6124

Mouth Of The Tyne

Sean Ho

 Tynemouth optician tyne and wear

Not long before the annual festivities begin in coastal town Tynemouth. Home to one of our boutique clinics; the Concept team are very excited to join in with the celebrations. 1000’s of people will be dancing in the street loving life. At concept, starting from the 7th July, we will be featuring amazing offers only available through the duration of the event. We will also be giving out FREE lemonade; to help keep you all hydrated in what is excpected to be hot weather. 


Sean Ho

 optician newcastle

How’s the weather?

Stay IN. Love with what you believe IN and be more of who you are. What is happening out there is on our threshhold. Climate change, environmental protection and our human rights traverse the notion of border. Contact and what it means to be human is the first reality. No man is an island. Vicissitudes of debate touches a primal nerve of what it means to belong. And what of us? Concept is a diverse company with an unusual ethos and demographic. With the potential to keep things disparate, yet paradoxically – exactly that which brings us together. Our strength is ‘Made in Britain’ enhanced by the design and technology and cultural lineage of Europe. From the couture vision of LaFont to the Skandi essence of Gotti and Orgreen, we embrace the cool echoes of our shores and skyline. Stay IN the frame. There is no such thing as a perfect family but there is an ideal of what the other side looks like or resembles. Ivor Cutler was a philosopher and poet of these uncertain, dark times: 'Imperfection is an end; perfection is only an aim.’ It is rather more impactful to make a difference from within. Closer, we can protect and change. If our union didn’t exist, we would have to create it. There’s artistry yet in this.

The Euro 2016 and Ian Wright’s Surprising Fashion Career

Sean Ho

 Optician newcastle

The UEFA Euro 2016 has been a larger cultural event than anyone could have expected. Flaring up questions from international politics to plain old footie scores, it’s all things to all people. It might surprise you, but the UEFA even impacts on our pièce de résistance – eyewear fashion.

Ian Wright was an English professional footballer. He enjoyed initial success with London clubs Crystal Palace and Arsenal, spending a total of 13 years in the two clubs (six in Crystal Palace; seven in Arsenal). With Arsenal, Wright lifted the Premier League title and the Euro Cup Winners Cup. In total, he played 581 league games, scored 387 goals for seven clubs in Scotland and England, and earned 33 caps for the English national team. Since retiring from football, Wright has had a TV career (featuring in shows as a varied as Top of the Pops and Men & Motors), a radio career, a writing career, a year long stint as a coach for Milton Keynes Dons and a career in punditry. Both of his sons are professional footballers.

Wright’s career is astounding. As it happens, he also wears some rather fetching specs.

At some point in 2014 Wright became a little bit of a fashion icon. He wore good glasses and he wore them well. Whilst some of the stranger milieu that seems to follow such things on social media may have made the odd joke or off-hand comment, we’re convinced that the vast majority of commentators were genuinely interested. Wright was mystified:

 celebrity glasses

But even this was not to stem the tide. Whilst the coverage of Wright’s glasses died off for a while, it came back with a vengeance in November 2015, with the advent of “armless glasses gate”. As he appeared on the BBC’s Match of the Day, many viewers were shocked to see that Wright’s glasses had only one arm. The internet buzzed with a vibrant mockery. Wright later clarified that this wasn’t a fashion statement – he had accidentally sat on his frame before going on the show. It was too late, however, and Wright’s frames were back in the spotlight.

With the Euro cup this year, Wright’s glasses have stepped back to the fore. A popular topic of discussion on social media, frequently commented on by news articles and always stylish – Wright is one to follow, no matter how much he might protest against it.

Similar styles:

 Gotti - Dan

Gotti - Dan

 opticians newcastle
 Paul Smith - Rittson

Paul Smith - Rittson

Bloomsday at Concept

Sean Ho

 optician newcastle joyce literature

‘The supreme question about a work of art is out of how deep a life does it spring.’ – James Joyce, Ulysses.

The 16 June is here, marking the 112th anniversary of Mr Bloom’s trek around Dublin – the subject of Ulysses. Joyce’s novel is still a staggering monument to his literary genius. With a narrative style that moves freely through the minds of his characters, a deep intertextuality with Grecian myth, philosophy of all kinds and Irish history, Ulysses was the novel that brought the modernist epoch of literature to its thundering heights. A narrative of permanent contradiction, resolution and transcendence – it can be a little bit hard to understand.

Ulysses is set over a single day. It doesn’t in any way attempt to make this day extraordinary, but examines it, gets beneath it and finds the inner logic of ordinary events. So, for example, at the beginning of the narrative Buck Mulligan begins to shave and Stephen Dedalus gets up. There is no inciting incident, no change to the normality of Joyce’s characters, as there would be in a traditional narrative structure.

A good example of this takes place in the third section of the novel – subtitled Proteus in Joyce’s Gilbert schema for the book. At the opening of the section, Stephen stands on the strand, by the tide. In a monologue format, he reflects on the things he sees: ‘Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read, seaspawn and seawrack, the nearing tide, that rusty boot. Snotgreen, bluesilver, rust: coloured signs.’

At first glance, this is very hard going. We understand what Stephen sees – ‘seaspawn and seawrack, the nearing tide, that rusty boot’ – but what he thinks about it is only half formed. This is a technique that Joyce uses frequently, the thought patterns of his characters forming through narrative, rather than simply being presented directly to us. Stephen, here, is actually reflecting on Aristotle’s crude materialism, his belief in Eternalism (that the universe simply was and always had been). In layman’s terms the ‘ineluctable modality of the visible’ translates roughly to ‘the inescapable existence of what I can see’. Joyce uses a tiny, insignificant incident to reflect on an entire trend of western philosophy. Equally, he characterises that philosophy in Stephen, whose thought is but a reflection of what is (‘thought through my eyes’).

So, basically, Joyce’s book is about both nothing and everything. Everything is expressed by very little and very little is expressed by everything. This is reflected in what the author himself thought of the book: ‘If I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world’.

Whatever your thoughts on the book, we hope that we’ve inspired you to read it and to celebrate Bloomsday with us today.

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