Enabling the blind to see is the greatest joy of Dr. Patricia Bath, eye surgeon, professor of ophthalmology, inventor of the Laserphaco Probe for the treatment of cataracts, and founder of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness. An independent thinker, she has been a trailblazer for women and African Americans in the medical profession, being the first to attain many of the highest academic honors and appointments in her field.
It was in 1981 that she first conceived of an invention that would use a laser to remove cataracts, a cloudiness that forms in the lens of an eye, causing blurry or distorted vision, or even blindness. Doctors have treated cataracts with traditional surgery or, more recently, ultrasound, to remove the clouded lens. An artificial lens can then be inserted. But Bath envisioned a way to make the surgery faster, easier, more accurate, and less invasive (with a much smaller incision) by using lasers.