James Drover

B.Sc, M.Sc, Ph.D. Memorial

Assistant Professor

Office: SN3094
Phone: (709) 864-8383
Email: jrdrover@mun.ca

Affiliations: Developmental

Research Interests

My research interests lie in two general areas. First, I am interested in the normal/abnormal development of vision across the lifespan along with the maturation of the neural mechanisms that mediate visual function. In particular, I study the development of stereopsis (i.e., depth perception), visual acuity, refractive error, contrast sensitivity, and vernier acuity. In addition, I am focused on screening young children for visual deficits that place them at risk for amblyopia or “lazy eye.” This undertaking is important because if these visual deficits are detected and treated early, the risk of amblyopia is minimized. Thus, I am currently designing new tests of visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, and vernier acuity that can effectively detect these deficits in infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.

Second, I am interested in the early nutritional requirements for optimal visual and cognitive development. Specifically, I am investigating the effects of docosahexaenoic acid, an essential fatty acid found in breast milk and supplemented infant formulas, on visual, cognitive, and executive function during early childhood.


I received my PhD in Developmental Psychology at Memorial University under the supervision of Dr. Russell Adams. Also, I completed a three-year postdoctoral fellowship under the tutelage of Dr. Eileen Birch at the Retina Foundation of the Southwest in Dallas, Texas .

Student Mentoring

Undergraduate: I am eager to supervise Honour’s Projects. Students who are interested in visual development are encouraged to contact me to set up an appointment. Students will receive hands-on experience study design, vision testing, data analysis, and presentation of research results.

Graduate: I am currently recruiting graduate students who are interested in visual development and designing new tests to assess the visual capabilities of young children. If these are your research interests, I encourage you to contact me to discuss the possibility of graduate work in my laboratory.


Mercer, M. E., Drover, J. R., Penney, K. J., Courage, M. L., Adams, R. J. (2013). Comparison of Patti Pics and Lea Symbols optotypes in children and adults. Optometry and Vision Science, 90, 236-241.

Drover, J. R., Felius, J., Hoffman, D.R, Castañeda, Y. S., Garfield, S., Wheaton, D. H., Birch, E. E. (2012). A randomized trial of DHA intake during infancy: School readiness and receptive vocabulary at 2-3.5years of age. Early Human Development, 88, 885-891.

Drover, J. R., Hoffman, D. R., Castañeda, Y.S., Morale, S.E., Garfield, S., Wheaton, D. H. & Birch, E. E. (2011). Cognitive function in 18-month-old term infants of the DIAMOND study: A randomized, controlled clinical trial with multiple dietary levels of docosahexaenoic acid. Early Human Development, 87, 223-230.

Drover, J. R., Morale, S. E., Wang, Y. Z., Stager, D. R., Sr., & Birch, E. E. (2010). Vernier acuity cards: examination of development and screening validity. Optom Vis Sci, 87, E806-812.

Birch, E. E., Carlson, S. E., Hoffman, D. R., Fitzgerald-Gustafson, K. M., Fu, V. L. N., Drover, J. R., Castañeda, Y. S., Minns, L., Wheaton, D. K. H., Mundy, D., Maruncyz, J., & Diersen-Schade, D. A. (2010). The DIAMOND (DHA Intake And Measurement Of Neural Development) Study: a double-masked, randomized controlled clinical trial of the maturation of infant visual acuity as a function of the dietary level of docosahexaenoic acid. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 91, 848-859.

Wang, J., Hatt, S. R., O’Connor, A. R., Drover, J. R., Adams, R., Birch, E. E., Holmes, J. M. (2010). Final version of the Distance Randot Stereotest: normative data, reliability, and validity. Journal of the American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, 14, 142-146.

Drover, J. R., Hoffman, D. R., Castañeda, Y. S., Morale, S. E., & Birch, E. E. (2009). Three randomized controlled trials of early long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation on means-end problem solving in nine month-olds. Child Development, 80, 1376-1384.

Penney, C. G, Drover, J., & Dyck, C. (2009). Phonological processing deficits and the acquisition of the alphabetic principle in a severely delayed reader: a case study. Dyslexia, 15, 263-281.

Drover, J. R., Wyatt, L. M., Stager, D. R. Sr., & Birch, E. E. (2009). The Teller Acuity Cards are effective in detecting amblyopia. Optometry and Vision Science, 86, 755-759.

Drover, J. R., Felius, J., Cheng, C.S., Morale, S.E., Wyatt, L., & Birch, E. E. (2008). Normative pediatric visual acuity data collected using the Amblyopia Treatment Study Protocol. Journal of the American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, 12, 145-149.

Drover, J. R., Stager, D. R. Sr., Morale, S. E., Leffler, J. N., & Birch, E. E. (2008).  Improvement in motor development following surgery for infantile esotropia. Journal of the American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, 12, 136-140.

Drover, J. R., Kean, P. G., Courage, M. L., & Adams, R. J. (2008). Prevalence of amblyopia and other vision disorders in Newfoundland preschool children. Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology, 43, 89-94.

Birch, E. E., Williams, C., Drover, J. R., Fu, V. L. N., Cheng, C. S., Northstone, K., Courage, M.L., & Adams, R. J. (2008). Randot Preschool Stereoacuity Test: Normative data and validity. Journal of the American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, 12, 23-26.

Drover, J. R., Courage, M. L., Dalton, S. M., & Adams, R. J. (2006). Accuracy of the contrast sensitivity card test for infants: Prediction of spatial resolution and test-retest variability. Optometry and Vision Science, 83, 228-232.

Penney, C. G., Drover, J. R., Dyck, C., & Squires, A. (2006). Phoneme awareness is not a prerequisite for learning to read. Written Language and Literacy, 9, 115-133.

Drover, J. R., Earle, A. E., Courage, M. L., & Adams, R. J. (2002). Improving the effectiveness of the infant contrast sensitivity card procedure. Optometry and Vision Science, 79, 52-59.

Adams, R. J., Courage, M. L., & Drover, J. R. (2000). Retest variability of human infant contrast sensitivity: How many tests are sufficient? Optometry and Vision Science, 77, 90-95.