Heroes of Orbis: Dr. Rudolph (Rudy) Wagner M.D.

Volunteer Faculty member and pediatric specialist, Dr. Rudy Wagner, is Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences at Rutgers State, University of New Jersey Medical School. He has been in practice for nearly 40 years and part of the Orbis family since the early 1990s.

‘Rutgers Today’ featured Dr. Rudy in a short video about his remarkable long-term work fighting preventable blindness with Orbis.

Watch Dr. Rudy Wagner shares the Orbis mission

Skills & Expertise

Dr. Wagner gained his undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame and his M.D. from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

He completed his ophthalmology residency at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and a fellowship in pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus surgery at Wills Eye Hospital of Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia.

His sub-specialties are:

  • Pediatric ophthalmology
  • Pediatric intraocular surgery
  • Neonatal ophthalmology
  • Strabismus

Teacher & Trainer

Our long-time volunteer Dr. Rudy Wagner has joined us on Flying Eye Hospital projects in over 20 countries - not only improving vision for the people he treated, but using those cases to educate local physicians and enhance skills to leave a lasting eye care legacy.

Speaking about the impact of restoring a person’s sight, he once said: “It's a gift that has an impact throughout the life of the individual. When you restore sight to a person. That's a big thing!”

He famously appeared on the CBS show ‘The Doctors’ on a Flying Eye Hospital mission to Binh Dinh, Vietnam in 2018. The program follows Dr. Wagner restoring the vision of two patients, Trinh and Thuy, young girls both suffering from strabismus (crossed eyes) and struggling in school with the eye condition.

Watch Dr. Rudy in ‘The Doctors’ show

His first ever mission with Orbis was to Bangladesh. Reflecting on the trip in an online news article in 2012, he said: “I was invited to go to Bangladesh for my first trip with Orbis, I was a little anxious about it because I had never traveled to a place like that before. I flew the long journey with the original Orbis airplane at the time, a DC-8 Flying Eye Hospital.

“Once I arrived, I didn’t know what to expect. Sometimes when you hear about these types of programs, you think all you will do is operate, operate, operate—there are a lot of organizations that do that—but Orbis is a little different. Its primary purpose is to teach the local physicians, in addition to taking care of problem patients. We help the physicians in treating patients, teaching them and establishing relationships with them.”

Gallery: Dr. Rudy Wagner's wonderful work with Orbis

In the same article, he elaborated on the methods of teaching, saying: “It's getting even better and better over the years. And the reason I say that is because... don't forget… we started this stuff before there was the internet and other types of technology to get this information out there.

"Now I do a surgery that gets broadcast in 73 countries around the world, people were watching, tuned into to watch the surgery, how it's done, and you're teaching the same just like you would if they were sitting in the aircraft watching over your shoulder. So that's really rewarding and it's also a more effective. You feel like you're really using your volunteer time in a more worthwhile way, it's reaching more people.”

Dr. Wagner, thank you for being a valuable asset to the Orbis family and leading the charge in the fight against preventable blindness in children. Your commitment and dedication to eliminating avoidable blindness is commendable. We hope to see you again on one of our sight-saving projects soon.

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