Dr. Cameron McCrodan is a developmental optometrist who runs a clinic in Victoria that helps youngsters and adults to make meaning from what their eyes are taking in.  The key to how this works is in the interplay between what the eye sees and how the brain works with it. He will be presenting on this topic at a session at 7 pm on May 6, organized by the Victoria Rotary Clubs' Literacy Roundtable. It is open to anyone in the community.  The location is the theatre at Berwick House on Elk Lake Road. 


Dr. McCrodan told us that vision is not as simple as just opening our eyes and looking.  He is probably the first "developmental optometrist" that most of us have ever met.  Using computer analogies, he likened the eyeball, muscles, and tissue as the "hardware" and the brain/eye interface as "software".  It turns out that the brain has to learn how to interpret the information that comes in to the eyes.  This ability may be impaired from childhood, but it can also result from trauma related to accidents, or illnesses such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease. He presented some interesting statistics, such as the 3 times increased likelihood that kids with ADHD have "convergence insufficiency" and that 53% of children in New York City failed binocular screening tests. Eighty percent of people who have problem reading lack one or more visual skills.  Visual issues are prevalent in 95-98% of juvenile delinquents, and a surprising 70% of the information that the brain takes in comes through the eyes. Children who have reading problems often experience frustration, behaviour problems and low self esteem. He uses testing instruments that register eye movements made while reading.  He was able to show us on a slide of two pages of text, one read by a "poor" reader and the other by one with better skills. The former moved forward and backward as they scanned the words, sometimes forward and backwards with in single words. The other reader moved progressively forward along the lines of text.

Individuals who have trouble reading may also have trouble forming written words, even though they might have good verbal ability. Dr. McCrodan operates a clinic in Victoria where he diagnoses and treats children, youth and adults.  Some travel a great distance to see him, including Hebrew speaking children from New York. For British Columbians, the initial exams are covered by the Medical Services Plan, but treatment must be funded by the patient or their parents. Since this can present financial challenges, Dr. McCrodan and the parent of a patient are developing a non-profit agency with charitable status, so that they can raise awareness and raise funds for this purpose. He has spoken to a number of local Rotary clubs and expressed appreciation for the work that Rotary is doing to address problems related to literacy.