Dr. Patricia Bath, inventor of the Laserphaco Probe and pioneer for laser cataract surgery

Cataract surgery is an intricate process that requires precision, patience, and a deep understanding of the eye’s structure. Over the years, surgical techniques have improved to give physicians reliable methods to remove cataracts and patients clearer vision. One of the pioneers of these advanced tools is Dr. Patricia Bath, the inventor of the Laserphaco Probe.

Patricia Bath’s Early Life

Dr. Patricia Bath was born on November 4th, 1942 in Harlem, New York. The daughter of a motorman and a domestic worker, Dr. Bath had a natural curiosity for science at a young age. She graduated from Hunter College in 1964 and later received her medical degree from Howard University. Her research during her ophthalmology fellowship at Columbia University revealed that Black Americans were twice as likely to develop blindness due to a lack of eye care services. With this in mind, Dr. Bath devised the community ophthalmology system, a framework that still exists to this day.

Becoming a Leader in Eye Care

Her work in ophthalmology was trendsetting, becoming the first Black ophthalmology resident in 1973 and the first female faculty member at UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute in 1975. Two years later, she would co-found the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness. However, she would receive worldwide acclaim with her contribution to cataract surgery: the Laserphaco Probe.

Development of the Laserphaco Probe

Traditional cataract surgery involves incisions made by a small blade on the side of the cornea to reach the cataract and leave an entryway for the new lens. Based on her research abroad in Europe, Dr. Bath conceptualized a way to make the same incisions more precise and safer with a laser. She began her research on the concept in 1981, and by 1986 unveiled the Laserphaco Probe to the scientific community. The invention was successful in returning eyesight to patients who had suffered from blindness for over three decades, and she became the first Black female doctor to receive a medical device patent in 1988.

Laser-assisted cataract surgery in Charlotte

Dr. Bath would retire from her position at UCLA Medical Center in 1993, but continued to be an advocate for blind patients until her death on May 30th, 2019. Her work on laser-assisted cataract surgery has been life-changing for patients around the world, including those in the Charlotte metro area who have been coming to CEENTA for a hundred years for their own procedures. If you are interested in learning more about laser cataract surgery at CEENTA, you can schedule an appointment with our board-certified surgeons online at ceenta.com/appointments.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. If you need an appointment with an eye doctor in one of our North or South Carolina locations, you can schedule appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.


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