Breaking Barriers



Breaking BarriersAnalysis & Conclusion



Shattering The Glass Ceiling

Breaking Barriers in History

"I was not seeking to be the first. I was only attempting to do my thing. It's only when history looks back that you realize you were the first."
~ Patricia Bath

(Patricia Bath On Being The First Person To Invent & Demonstrate Laserphaco Cataract Surgery)

Bringing Equal Eye Care

(American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness)

After discovering that African-Americans received less eye care than other races, Patricia Bath decided to do something. Bath co-founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness (AIPB) in 1976, “a non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of blindness through programs designed to PROTECT, PRESERVE, and RESTORE the Gift of Sight” (American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness). It is “founded on the principle that EYESIGHT IS A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT and that PRIMARY EYE CARE must be a component of Basic Health Services provided free if necessary for all humankind” (American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness). As the director of the AIPB, Bath traveled and spread the idea of community ophthalmology. This was the idea of bringing equal eye care through education and public health outreach.  She also donated equipment, gave lectures, and performed surgeries, all in an attempt to bring equal eye care to everyone.

Overcoming Discrimination

Despite all the discrimination she faced, Bath put stereotypes aside and completed many firsts. She is most commonly noted for being the first African-American female doctor to receive a medical patent for her invention, the Laserphaco Probe. As mentioned earlier, her boss had told Bath she wouldn’t be able to invent the device. Her boss was not happy. Bath says, “ some instances there was anger that petit moi, little me, had indeed shattered the glass ceiling, had a scientific breakthrough…” Creating this device earned her the medical patent. Her other accomplishments include earning five US patents, three patents in foreign countries, advocating for female inventors in front of a Senate Judiciary subcommunity, becoming the first woman to be elected to UCLA’s honorary medical staff, even though she faced discrimination when she first joined,  and being the first female chair and program director of a postgraduate training program in the United States.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

"There was not acceptance, and in some instances there was anger that petite moi, little me, had indeed shattered the glass ceiling, had a scientific breakthrough."
~ Patricia Bath 

(Genzlinger, Neil)

(Bath, Eraka)

Revolutionizing Cataract Removal

"Do not allow your mind to be imprisoned by majority thinking. Remember that the limits of science are not the limits of imagination.."
~ Patricia Bath

(The Right To Sight: Patricia Bath)

(Dr. Bath Describes Laserphaco Invention at 1987 ASCRS Convention)

When Bath first came up with the idea for the Laserphaco Probe, it was considered impossible by many. The technology wasn’t advanced enough to remove cataracts with lasers. In fact, Bath spent five years working on her idea of using lasers to combat this lack of technology. After all of her hard work, she had a device that removed cataracts by inserting an optical fiber that disintegrated the cataract into particles less than 0.1 mm in diameter by using coherent radiation. “Since the particles produced by this ablation are so small, the device can be made to be extremely small and therefore, the incision likewise can be made much smaller than with other techniques such as ultrasonic” (Bath, Patricia Era).