Dr. Patricia E. Bath
Believe in the power of truth... Do not allow your mind to be imprisoned by majority thinking. Remember that the limits of science are not the limits of imagination.
—Dr. Patricia E. Bath
Dr. Patricia E. Bath is a world-famous ophthalmologist. After excelling in her studies at high school and university and earning plaudits for her investigations in cancer research as early as age sixteen, Dr. Bath embarked on an illustrious medical career.
For over thirty years, Dr. Bath's research and career objectives have been directed toward the prevention, care and treatment of blindness. Her impressive accomplishments include the invention and subsequent acquisition of a patent for an "apparatus for ablating and removing cataract lenses" named the Laserphaco Probe; introduction of a discipline, community ophthalmology; and co-founding of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness.
The Laserphaco Probe "consists of an optical laser fiber surrounded by irrigation and aspiration [suction] tubes. The laser probe can be inserted in a tiny [1 mm] incision in the eye. The laser energy vaporizes or 'phacoblates' the cataract and lens matter within a few minutes. The decomposed lens is extracted when liquid supplied by the irrigation line washes through and is sucked out through the aspiration tube, and a replacement lens is inserted." Prior to her invention, cataract removal was performed manually with a mechanical grinding device and only limited to secondary cataract surgery. Dr. Bath's probe is not only being used for primary or initial cataract surgery, but it increases the accuracy of the procedure as well as reducing the attendant discomfort.
With the emphasis on making basic eye care available to underserved segments of the population, Dr. Bath introduced a new discipline, community opthalmology, which incorporates elements of health care, community medicine and clinical ophthalmology.
Her passionate battle against blindness moved to another front, with the co-founding of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness with three colleagues. The Institute's basic objective is to protect, preserve and restore sight.
Dr. Bath's dedication, caring and global vision eminently qualifies her to be an advocate of telemedicine—her present driving force—which provides medical services to remote areas via electronic communication. With the "right to sight" as her credo, she continues to be on the cutting edge of research and innovation in her field.
African-American Inventors III: Patricia Bath, Philip Emeagwali, Henry Sampson, Valerie Thomas, Peter Tolliver, Susan K. Henderson. Capstone Press, 1998.
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The LASERPHACO Probe
Paradigm's Photon Laser Phacoemulsification System
International Museum of Black Inventions: Dr. Patricia Bath
AMWA Inaugurates International Women in Medicine Hall of Fame
Lemelson Center Invention Features: Patricia Bath
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