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Rocky Mountain Low Vision

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This is Fred Ball for Zions Bank, speaking on business.

An estimated 17,815 Utahns over 40 years old are visually impaired. More than 5,000 Utahns are considered legally blind. What's surprising is that most of those people are unaware of local services that can help with vision impairments. In fact, 35 percent of our state's population doesn't know what services are available.

Ironically, that's good news for Stephen Gerritsen. He recently opened Utah's first retail store selling products that can help people who are visually impaired. It's called Rocky Mountain Low Vision and it's located at 1458 S. Main Street, Suite B in Salt Lake City.

Stephen has actually been in the business for five years. He started selling magnification products in 1997 after one company hired him to be a distributor. At the time, he was just 21 years old, and the store was in his home. But increasing demand for his products led him to relocate.

Since opening in March, the store is already busy with clients. Some travel from as far as Wyoming and Idaho. Stephen now sells a variety of magnifiers to help people afflicted with such things as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopothy, glaucoma, cataracts and other low vision impairments. The products include portable devices, closed circuit TVs and software. People with low vision can finally read newspapers, sign checks, read mail, birthday cards, food labels. They can even do hobbies. Stephen told me that one client was able to read an 800-page book after buying one of his products.

Selling the products alone is a great service. But Rocky Mountain Low Vision also offers financing through the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation. Loans can be obtained for zero interest, and qualified clients can receive grants for up to 45 percent of the purchase price.

For Zions Bank, I'm Fred Ball. I'm speaking on business.

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