I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for sources of inspiration to help me turn my thoughts about change into action!
Today’s source of inspiration for me…
Dr. Patricia Bath, the first African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology and the first African American female doctor to receive a medical patent.
Did you know that she invented the Laserphaco Probe, a device that created a less painful and more precise treatment of cataracts, in the 1980s?
Changing the course of history ...
What an incredible trailblazer in medicine and science!
She was more than an ophthalmologist and inventor… she placed great emphasis on access to care and ensuring that eye care treatment was available to those who needed it most!
She was also a strong advocate of telemedicine, in its early days as a way of increasing access to care in remote areas.
Patricia Bath came from humble beginnings, having been born in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood. Her parents and family encouraged her, early on, to pursue her academic interests and placed great importance on education.
She was smart and fast – she finished high school in 2 years!
Her academic career started as an undergraduate student at Hunter College. She went on to get her medical degree from Howard University and rounded out her studies with a fellowship in Ophthalmology at Columbia University! Impressive!
During her fellowship program, Dr. Bath learned that African Americans were twice as likely to suffer from blindness than other patients and eight times more likely to develop glaucoma!
Patricia Bath recognized the impact of this societal problem affecting the African American community, determined that a change needed to be made to address it, and then acted on it by creating a solution!
Her solution was to develop a community ophthalmology system that increased the amount of eye care given to those who were unable to afford treatment, specifically focusing on African-Americans.
Bath believed that eyesight should be considered a basic human right. Again, putting her beliefs into action, she co-founded a nonprofit organization, the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness, in 1976.
This organization was founded on this principle that eyesight is a basic human right, and they also believe that primary eye care must be a component of Basic Health Services and provided free, if necessary, for all humankind.
Pioneer in Ophthalmology…
Dr. Bath had many “firsts” including being the first female faculty member in the Department of Ophthalmology at UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute.
By 1983, Bath had helped create the Ophthalmology Residency Training program at UCLA-Drew, which she also chaired thus becoming the 1st woman in the nation to hold such a position.
With the invention of her Laserphaco Probe, she was able to help restore the sight of individuals who had been blind for more than 30 years.
I cannot really explain the amount of awe and inspiration I feel from learning about Dr. Bath and her incredible contributions to science and medicine, specifically in the field of ophthalmology.
I think this story particularly impacted me because I am such a visually-oriented person and feel that having clear vision and full use of my eyes is critical to my overall health and well-being.
When I think of all of the people she helped and how much she cared about making a difference, I feel inspired and hopeful and extremely grateful too!
I only wish that I had the opportunity to meet her and speak to her in person…
May her memory and significant contributions live on forever and her story be shared with all up and coming eye doctors as a source of inspiration for them!
Thanks for reading about this important and inspirational woman! I hope you enjoyed learning about her as much as I did!
In light and greater knowledge,