Page 10 - Amazing Black Lives
P. 10

1975, she joined the Department of Opthamology at UCLA, named the Jules
                   Stein Eye Institute, becoming its first female faculty member.       Not one to let
                   moss grow under her feet, she founded the American Institute for the
                   Prevention of Blindness a year later.     She noticed that, among her patients,
                   African Americans were twice as likely to suffer from blindness as other
                   patients she treated.    Further, she found that blacks were eight times more
                   likely to develop glaucoma.     A skilled physician and a humanitarian at heart,
                   Bath’s research led to her development of a community ophthalmology system,
                   with an emphasis upon quality eye care for those who were unable to afford
                   treatment.   Her institute was based upon the principle that “eyesight is a basic
                   human right.”


                   Bath began to consider the idea of treating cataracts with medical lasers in
                   1981.   She expanded her knowledge of lasers in Germany at Berlin University.
                   Over five years, she developed and tested her budding invention.               This
                   medical pioneer began to change the lives of cataract patients worldwide
                   through the use of her Laserphaco Probe by 1986.           This instrument greatly
                   improved medical treatment and outcomes for eye patients.            She patented
                                                                                 her   invention    in
                                                                                 1988, becoming the
                                                                                 first black woman to
                                                                                 receive a medical
                                                                                 patent.   Her probe
                                                                                 provided    a   more
                                                                                 precise, less painful,
                                                                                 laser treatment for
                                                                                 patients undergoing
                                                                                 eye surgery.     It is
                                                                                 still used today by
                                                                                 eye surgeons the
                                                                                 world over.      She
                                                                                 received     patents
                                                                                 for this device in
                                                                                 Japan, Canada and
                   Europe, as well as the United States.     Amazingly, with her Laserphaco Probe,
                   Bath was able to help restore the sight of people who had been blind for as
                   long as thirty years or more.


                   Bath became the first woman to chair and direct a postgraduate training
                   program in the United States from 1983 to 1986 at UCLA.          After retiring from
                   her long and extraordinary career in 1993, Bath was named an honorary
                   member of the UCLA Medical Center staff and was honored as a Howard
                   University Pioneer in Academic Medicine.          She was a humanitarian and
                   visionary, holding the people who could least afford or have access to health
                   care close to her heart.     She was a strong, early advocate of telemedicine,
                   promoting long-distance medical services, especially in remote areas.          She
                   passed away on May 30, 2019, but her legacy lives on in the many lives she
                   improved, and continues to improve, worldwide.
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