In 1988 Dr. Patricia Bath became the first African-American female doctor to receive a medical patent for her invention, the Laserphaco Probe. This device improved treatment for cataract patients. Prior to her success, Dr. Bath broke another “first” by becoming the first African-American to complete a residency in ophthalmology at Columbia University in 1973. While attending Columbia University, Dr. Bath discovered that her African-Americans patients were twice as likely to suffer from blindness. Her discovery caused her to co-found the American Institute for Prevention of Blindness in 1976 and spurred her invention of the Laserphaco. During this time, she became the first woman on the faculty of the Department of Opthalmology at UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute. She retired in 1993. Today, her device holds patents in Japan, Canada, and Europe.
Vision 2020 salutes Dr. Bath for her work as a leader in the STEM field.