Black Inventors Who Changed the World: Dr. Patricia Bath
Dr. Patricia Bath was born in Harlem to hardworking parents who encouraged academic excellence. Her interest in science came early in life, when her mother bought her a chemistry set. Being ambitious was commonplace in the Bath household, as her father was the first Black motorman for New York's subway system.
In 1973, Dr. Bath became the first African American to accomplish a residency in ophthalmology. Just two years later, she became the first female faculty member at UCLA's Jules Stein Eye Institute's Department of Ophthalmology, but her drive to do more to understand the human eye didn't stop there. Dr. Bath used her passion to improve vision and signed on as co-founder for the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness in 1976. Their motto, "eyesight is a basic human right" is very much a critical focus for the institute to this day.
Dr. Bath is an HBCU graduate of Howard University and pursued her medical education in ophthalmology. It was there that she discovered African Americans were twice as likely to go blind than other patients and eight times more likely to develop glaucoma. Her research led to her development of a community ophthalmology system that increased the amount of eye care given to those who were unable to afford treatment. This helped define her area of study and in 1986, when she invented the Laserphaco Probe and forever changed the devastating statics of eye disease in the African American community. At the same time, Dr. Bath invented a revolutionary eye procedure to treat cataracts for all patients around the world.
Dr. Patricia Bath made history again by becoming the first African American female doctor to receive a medical patent. Learn more about her fascinating story below.