I’ve never fully believed that oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens is a real person — that name is just too good, right? But I’m starting to finally buy it, especially now after the 85 year-old just pledged to give $20 million to Johns Hopkins for vision-related research.
Pickens is a fan of Hopkins’ Wilmer Eye Institute, having been treated there for both cataracts and macular degeneration. He claims his vision is currently 20/40, thanks in part to the new macular degeneration treatments he received at Hopkins. When his father was his age, Pickens said, he was already legally blind due to the condition.
Pickens, the 328th-richest person in America, endowed a professorship at Hopkins back in 2005. (The current Boone Pickens professor at Hopkins is opthalmologist Walter Stark, who befriended Pickens during a Louisiana hunting trip in the 1980s.) His name is also on the atrium at Wilmer. “I’m doing pretty good,” Pickens said, in his typical folksy way. “When I have a problem—and I do have an eye problem and all—I find the best, and that was Wilmer. It’s part of Johns Hopkins. … It’s the best in ophthalmology, the best school, the best hospital, [and] the best doctors of any other ophthalmology group anywhere in the world.”