Dr. Patricia Bath Shattered Glass Ceilings

Dr. Patricia Bath changed the history of ophthalmology through her tremendous sight-saving accomplishments, shattering glass ceilings along the way.

After excelling academically throughout her high school, college and medical studies, Dr. Bath invented the Laserphaco Probe, a device that enables more precise and less painful cataract surgeries. In 1988, she became the first African American woman doctor to receive a medical patent, and Laserphaco is still used today for cataract treatments worldwide.

Not only did Dr. Patricia Bath’s innovative research inform her invention of laser cataract surgery, but her advocacy for blindness treatment and prevention created a new discipline called “community ophthalmology.” This outreach offers primary vision care to underserved populations and has since grown to a global scale, saving the vision of countless individuals. Dr. Bath cofounded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness in 1976, which officially deemed eyesight as a “basic human right” and continues to support eye care availability for all people, regardless of their location or economic status.

“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 Bath

  • 1973- 1st African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology
  • 1975- 1st Woman faculty member, UCLA Ophthalmology Dept. Jules Stein Eye Institute
  • 1976- Cofounder, American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness
  • 1986- Inventor of Laserphaco Probe, laser cataract surgery
  • 1988- 1st African American woman doctor to receive a medical patent

Reflecting upon the accomplishments of Dr. Patricia Bath fills us with much gratitude and inspiration, as she continued to fervently fight blindness until her death in 2019.