February was Black History Month. The Glaucoma Service Foundation would like to salute Patricia Bath for her contributions to ophthalmology. Bath is the first African American woman doctor to receive a patent for a medical purpose. Her Laserphaco Probe is used around the world to treat cataracts. The holder of four patents, she is also the founder of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness located in Los Angeles, California.
Dr. Bath, through her research in the 1970s, found that African Americans were eight times more likely to suffer from blindness as a result of glaucoma than Caucasians. This pioneering research has been confirmed by major universities and led to national and international initiatives such as Glaucoma 2000. This would eventually lead to the educational concept of Community Ophthalmology, which would work as an outreach program, sending volunteers out into the community to promote vision, cataracts, and glaucoma screening.