Patricia Bath

BATH, Patricia, African-American ophthalmic surgeon. The inventor of an apparatus for ablating and removing cataracts from an eye lens (1988). While at Columbia Medical School she had been taught that African-Americans were very susceptible to blindness caused by glaucoma. The causes included vitamin deficiencies and infections. Patricia now directs an institute dedicated to reduction of such blindness in the Third World. The concept is that of simple and inexpensive ways of eliminating these defects in large populations. So after  the introduction of laser technology in the 1980s, she visualised laser surgery as the technique of choice. Patricia demonstrated that the best results were obtained with ultraviolet lasers. Such a laser could evaporate the diseased lens without any undesirable effects in the eye. In 1988 she patented a system consisting of a miniature fibre-optic probe. This microprobe is inserted into the lens, the activated laser then extracts the diseased part of the lens. A technique now in routine use.

Ophthalmic Inventor

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