Celebrating Black History 365
Enabling the blind to see is the greatest joy of Dr. Patricia Bath, eye surgeon, professor of ophthalmology, inventor of the Laserphaco Probe for the treatment of cataracts, and founder of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness. An independent thinker, she has been the trailblazer for women and African Americans in the medical profession being the first to attain many of the highest academic honors and appointments in her field. Bath completed high school in two and a half years and went on to study chemistry and physics at Hunter College in New York (BA, 1964). Her medical training was at Howard University in Washington, D.C. With her medical degree from Howard’s College of Medicine she returned to New York. She was an intern at Harlem Hospital and completed a fellowship in ophthalmology at Columbia University.
It was in 1981 that she first conceived of an invention that would use a laser to remove cataracts, a cloudiness that forms in the lens of an eye, causing blurry or distorted vision and even blindness.
Cataracts usually occur in people over the age of sixty and nearly anyone who lives long enough will develop them. While her career has been marked by many “firsts” as a scientists, a woman, and an African American, she looks forward to the day when a person’s work will speak for itself. During a humanitarian mission in North Africa, she restored the sight of a woman who had been blind for thirty years by implanting a keratoprosthesis. She is a holder of four U.S. Patents for her inventions.
Resource: The Pride of African American History (DCW Publishing Company)