Digital Media Concepts/Laserphaco Probe
Dr. Patricia Bath is a pioneer in the field of Ophthalmology, one of the most decorated African American women in the medical field, creator of the Laserphaco Probe & co-founder of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness. Her research has changed the course of history in medicine & surgery surrounding eyesight.
Inventor[edit | edit source]
Patricia E. Bath grew up in Harlem, New York. Her father had previously been a Merchant Marine & is reportedly the first Black man to work for the NYC subway system. Her mother, a home-maker, saved money she made doing domestic work to fund her children's college tuition. Bath was emboldened by her family from a very young age to go to school & go after the career choice she wanted. Her interest in becoming a medical professional came from learning about Dr. Albert Schweitzer & his work with Lepers, as well as her mother buying her a children's play chemistry set. With the support of her loved ones, and her full attention on the medical field, Patricia graduated high school in just 2 years, receiving recognition for her research at the young age of 16. She attained her Bachelor's degree from Hunter College in '64, & went on to study for her medical degree at the Howard University College of Medicine. After graduating with high honors & receiving her MD from Howard, she interned at Harlem Hospital in her hometown of Harlem, NY. During this time, she was also completing a fellowship with Columbia University for Ophthalmology in 1973, becoming the first African American woman to do so. Patricia has made a habit of collecting the title of "first" in many areas, including: the first African American woman to receive a patent for a medical device in 1986 (Japan, Canada, Europe) & the first female doctor in the Department of Ophthalmology at UCLA (1973). She is also a co-founder of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness, founded on the belief that "eyesight is a basic human right" after her research showed evidence of African American people having twice the chance of losing their eyesight, as well as eight times the chance of developing glaucoma. This institute has made it possible for those who cannot afford care or treatment regarding their eyesight to have access to what they need.
History and Development[edit | edit source]
Dr. Bath created the Laserphaco Probe out of, what some would call, necessity. The Laserphaco Probe provides a better solution for those with cataracts, a major threat to those over 60 & African Americans. With cataracts, the lens of the eye becomes very hard to see through, due to deterioration, causing prolonged cloudiness in vision. Before the invention, surgery was extremely risky, took a considerable amount of time, and also was very expensive. Removal of cataracts was not long-term, and involved painful technique that included grinding down the lens of the eye until the cataract was almost gone. Dr. Patricia Bath used her knowledge of the anatomy of the eye, as well as her studies in laser technology, to develop a device and system that would give promising results, at a fraction of the cost and pain.
Technology (what's different from other products)[edit | edit source]
The Laserphaco Probe uses a system of lasers, suction, and irrigation to remove the affected lens & replace it with an artificial lens that won't deteriorate over time. This combination of technology provides a non-invasive, as well as an almost-permanent, solution to cataracts.
Institutional applications and uses[edit | edit source]
Today, the Laserphaco Probe is used on a global scale, in hospitals all over the world. It has restored sight to many individuals whom were deemed blind before this invention. This device has also become a normalized, universal solution to cataracts, making the condition a permanent problem & cause of blindness no more.
Legacy[edit | edit source]
As a society, it seems as though we will always use this device for the cost-effective, non-invasive, virtually painless removal of cataracts. Dr. Patricia E Bath continues to make strides in research surrounding vision, as well as in her advocacy for each and everyone's sight.
Bibliography or Further Reading[edit | edit source]