Oxford AASC: Photo Essay

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PHOTO ESSAY

African Americans in Science and Technology

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Dr. Patricia Bath.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The development of a pioneering cataract treatment was but another in a protracted line of firsts for the ophthalmologist Patricia Bath. When she received her patent for the Laserphaco Probe in 1988, Harlem-raised Bath could already claim distinction as the first African American ophthalmology resident, the first African American female surgeon at the UCLA Medical Center, the first woman on staff at the Center’s eye clinic, and the founding president of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness. Bath’s instrument, devised after years of research in Germany, where laser treatments were more prevalent, was a minimally-invasive cataract-pulverizing device that supplanted a surgical treatment conventionally performed with a drill. The Laserphaco Probe yielded yet another distinction, as Bath became the first female African American physician to receive a patent. She would continue her success, receiving another patent in 2000 for a cataract treatment that employs ultrasound.

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