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Patricia Bath

Patricia Bath became the first African American woman doctor to receive a patent

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Female doctor talking to patient
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Doctor Patricia Bath, an ophthalmologist from New York, was living in Los Angeles when she received her first patent, becoming the first African American female doctor to patent a medical invention. Patricia Bath's patent (#4,744,360) was for a method for removing cataract lenses that transformed eye surgery by using a laser device making the procedure more accurate.

Patricia Bath - Cataract Laserphaco Probe

Patricia Bath's passionate dedication to the treatment and prevention of blindness led her to develop the Cataract Laserphaco Probe. The probe patented in 1988, was 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 - Other Achievements

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.

Patricia Bath - On Her Greatest Obstacle

Sexism, racism, and relative poverty were the obstacles which I faced as a young girl growing up in Harlem. There were no women physicians I knew of and surgery was a male-dominated profession; no high schools existed in Harlem, a predominantly black community; additionally, blacks were excluded from numerous medical schools and medical societies; and, my family did not possess the funds to send me to medical school. (Quote from Patricia Bath's NIM interview)
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