Welcome to Black History Month! While we have many stories of triumph over adversity worth celebrating, this February we’re especially taken by that of Dr. Patricia Barth, an African American and Native American innovator.
Imagine living in a world ranging from hazy, clouded vision to that 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 her 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. All you have to go by is the sound of the voice assuring you that this procedure is safe, more accurate and more comfortable than traditional cataract surgery.
As a noted Opthamologist and famous black inventor, Dr. Patricia Bath has dedicated her life to the treatment and prevention of visual impairments. Her personal belief that everyone has the “Right to Sight” led to her invention in 1985 of a specialized tool and procedure for the removal of cataracts.
With the Laserphaco Probe and procedure, Dr. Bath increased the accuracy and results of cataract surgery, which had previously been performed manually with a mechanical grinder. The difference between the old method and her new invention was the difference between the use of highly accurate laser technology and the somewhat subjective accuracy of a mechanical device.
The Laserphaco Probe combined an optical laser, irrigation system and suction tubes. In use, the laser is inserted into a tiny incision on the eye; the laser then vaporizes the cataract and lens material, which is removed via the suction tubes. A replacement lens is then inserted on the eye. With the Laserphaco Probe invention and the development of the procedure for its use, Dr. Bath helped restore the sight of several people who had been blinded by cataracts for up to 30 years.
Imagine the joy they felt when they opened their eyes to see Dr. Patricia Bath’s smiling face for the first time.
At Goodwill, we believe in providing people with the opportunities they need to see life in a whole new way.
Through the power of work, we empower local individuals to become active, proud, contributing members of their communities. Thank you for helping make this transformation possible. Thank you for supporting Goodwill.