Creation: Spring & Creation
To have two eyes can be cause for pride; but to have one eye is better than to have none. (Guinea)
Just a week ago, my 79-year-young aunt had an eye cataract removed. Most Black seniors are likely to have cataract problems (clouding of the vision), and they will most likely benefit from the work of Patricia Era Bath.
Bath received a patent in 1988 for a version of a laser device to remove cataracts. She was born in Harlem, New York, in 1942 to Rupert Bath, a seaman, and Gladys Bath. Her mother scrubbed floors to send Bath to medical school.
She graduated from Howard University School of Medicine in 1968. She then worked as an intern at Harlem Hospital’s Eye Clinic, followed by a fellowship to Colombia University.
Early in her career, she noted that poor Blacks in America suffered a much higher rate of blindness than whites. She therefore created a system to test vision and screen for problems such as cataracts and glaucoma. She also persuaded some of her Colombia professors to provide free eye surgery to blind patients at Harlem Hospital. With Bath’s help, the Black American community significantly benefited from a reduction in eye disease and blindness
In 1977, she was co-founder of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness (AIPB). This body gives hope to seniors as well as newly-born who have conditions that could lead to blindness. The work of the AIPB is based on the belief that sight is a human right.
Sexism and racism may have slowed Bath’s career but could not derail it. She was the first African-American woman surgeon at the UCLA Medical Center and the first woman to be on the faculty of the UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute. In 1988, she was elected to Hunter College Hall of Fame in 1988 and elected as Howard University Pioneer in Academic Medicine in 1993.
I give thanks all those who, like my aunt, can exercise their right to sight thanks to Dr Bath's work.
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