Penn State coach Joe Paterno, whose thick-lens glasses had become a trademark in his 44 years at the helm of the Nittany Lions, has had surgery to correct his vision.
“I had trouble reading for the last six months, so I went down to Philadelphia to the Penn Scheie Eye Institute,” the 83-year-old said. “And the guy says to me … I think we can fix that up. So they went in and did it. I don't really need glasses any more.”
The ophthalmologist was Dr. Stuart Fine, who Paterno has known for more than four decades.
But anyone expecting the spectacle of major college football's all-time wins leader showing up on the sideline with a completely new look next fall will be disappointed. Paterno said when he walks around without glasses, “I feel strange.”
“When I don't wear 'em, and I put on a sweater, I reach to take the glasses off and I don't have them on,” he said.
So he had a set of glasses fashioned with similar frames to the ones he wore in the past, only with much thinner lenses.
See Paterno talking about his vision:
Paterno discussed his vision at the Penn State Multi-Sport Facility Thursday, where he and his wife Sue were recognized for their roles as honorary coaches for the Centre County Volunteers in Medicine 2010 Boston Marathon Challenge.
The Challenge raises money to help uninsured citizens of the county receive free medical and dental care. Local runners who participate in the Boston Marathon generate the funds by soliciting donations on behalf of their efforts in the race.
Paterno said it is “nice to be a part of,” then added: “Obviously I'd prefer to be running a little bit, but at my age, those days are gone.”
Even at his age, however, he does have plenty to look forward to. And if he chooses, he can do it without his glasses. As if to prove it, he took them off and provided a demonstration.
“I can do everything now,” he said, rolling up his sleeve and looking at his wrist. “I can see my watch. I can tell you what time it is.”