Honors American History
A change in Society
Imagine living in a world ranging from hazy, clouded vision of total darkness for 30 years. Before 1985, that was the plight of those with cataracts who did not want to risk surgery with a mechanical grinder. Now imagine sitting in a doctor’s office without being able to see as she explains that it may be possible to restore your vision. You can’t tell by studying body language whether to trust this person or if they’re pulling your leg because it was unheard of and now that this is possible it changes the mindset of people and gives them hope.
Patricia Era Bath was born on November 4, 1942 in Harlem, New York, to Rupert Bath who was the first black motorman for the New York City subway system. As former Marine seas men, Rupert Bath traveled all over the world and his experiences influenced his daughter to do the same. Gladys Bath was the mother of Patricia bath who was a housewife and domestic worker who used her salary to save money for her children’s education. “They believed that with enough education; I could own the whole world (“Patricia Bath”). Her mother piqued the young girl’s interest in science by buying her a chemistry set. As a result, Patricia worked hard on her intellectual pursuits and at the age of sixteen she became one of the few students to attend a cancer research workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The head of the program, Dr. Robert Bernard, was so impressed with Patricia’s discoveries during the project that he incorporated her finding in a scientific paper he presented it to the conference and the
publicity surrounding her discoveries earned her Mademoiselle Magazines merit award in 1960.
After graduating from high school in only two years, she went straight to college to pursue her dream job. In 1964, bath graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hunter College in New
York. She then enrolled in the medical school Howard University in Washington D.C. where she received her honors degree. Shortly after graduating she received and internship then after the internship she completed fellowship in ophthalmology at Columbia University. Through her studies she discovered that African Americans were twice as likely to suffer from blindness than other patients. Her studies led her to increase the amount of eye care given to those who were unable to afford treatment.
In 1973, Patricia Bath became the first African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology. She moved to California the following year to work as an assistant professor of surgery at Charles R. Drew University and the University of California, Los Angeles. In 1975, she became the first female faculty member in the Department of Ophthalmology at UCLA's
Jules Stein Eye Institute. Despite university policies extolling equality and condemning discrimination, Professor Bath experienced numerous instances of sexism and racism throughout her tenure at both UCLA and Drew. Determined that her research not be obstructed by the "glass ceilings," she took her research abroad to Europe. Free at last from the toxic constraints of sexism and racism her research was accepted on its merits at the Laser Medical Center of Berlin,
West Germany, the Rothschild Eye Institute of Paris, France, and the Loughborough Institute of
Technology, England. At those institutions she achieved her "personal best" in research and laser science, the fruits of which are evidenced by her laser patents on eye. In 1976, Bath cofounded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness, which established that "eyesight is a basic
human right." As director of AIPB, Bath has traveled widely. On these travels she has performed surgery, taught new medical techniques, donated equipment, lectured, met with colleagues, and witnessed the disparity in health services available in industrial and developing countries. By
1983, Bath had