Dr. Patricia Bath, an ophthalmologist
from New York, but living in Los Angeles when she received her patent,
became the first African American woman doctor to receive a patent for
a medical invention. Patricia Bath's patent (no. 4,744,360), a method for
removing cataract lenses, transformed eye surgery, using a
device making the procedure more accurate.
Bath’s passionate dedication to the treatment and prevention of blindness
led her to develop the Cataract Laserphaco Probe. The probe, patented in
1988, is designed to use the power of a laser to quickly and painlessly
vaporize cataracts from patients’ eyes, replacing the more common method
of using a grinding, drill-like device to remove the afflictions. With
another invention, Bath was able to restore sight to people who had been
blind for over 30 years. Patricia Bath also holds patents for her invention
in Japan, Canada, and Europe.
Patricia Bath graduated from the
Howard University School of Medicine in 1968 and completed specialty training
in ophthalmology and corneal transplant at both New York University and
Columbia University. In 1975, Bath became the first African-American woman
surgeon at the UCLA Medical Center and the first woman to be on the faculty
of the UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute. She is the founder and first president
of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness. Patricia Bath
was elected to Hunter College Hall of Fame in 1988 and elected as Howard
University Pioneer in Academic Medicine in 1993.
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