Ken Twergo and I met in Tucson, Arizona in the 1980s. We are both
adventurous, and in 1991 we moved from the Sonoran desert in Arizona to
the Northern Rocky mountains of Idaho. We lived first in the mountains, then later in Boise. We loved western mountain life and lived
it fully for most of that decade. In the magnificent white of winter snow,
however, I began to see dark splotches in my vision. Something was wrong.
My life, and our lives, would take an unexpected turn.
I sought medical care for what was eventually described as macular edema,
caused by an inflammatory cycle, the origin of which was never determined.
I had lots of procedures, medicines, and as my vision worsened I sought
counsel all over the country. I learned a lot from the patient’s chair. With
my vision struggles, I just worked harder. I stayed in my treasured position
as Assistant Director at the Idaho Humanities Council until 2001. My office
eventually became fully adapted with low vision aids to maintain necessary
reading, computer work, and administrative organization.
I’d always seen Ken as “the lemons to lemonade guy.” He is a born problem
solver. It was no surprise, then, that when I started to panic he set out to
learn all he could about adaptive technology for vision. He read about a
disabilities conference and got on a plane. There he found the latest devices
that vision disabled people were using to pursue their education and careers.
He came back both humbled and inspired by the range of the possible. As
Ken’s excitement grew, he envisioned a new business.
He started his first low vision business, Intermountain West Low Vision
Products, in Boise in 1998. He took vision equipment all over Idaho and
Montana, fishing rod in the back of the truck, just in case. He met lots of
people in a short time. He saw that lives were transformed because the
equipment was so good. The business took hold. Manufacturers encouraged
him to expand into Oregon and Washington. He rented an apartment in
Portland. He has never looked back. In 2001, I moved to Portland to join
him in the growing business, which we renamed Vision Matters.
Ken regards his work as uniquely rewarding. Low vision technology is
life-changing for those experiencing the stress of not seeing well and not
willing to give up. Ken continued to grow the business, training a team
of representatives to travel and demonstrate products throughout seven
In 2006 the company made another change, expanding its Vancouver,
Washington showroom and changing its name to The Low Vision Store. I
began writing an online blog, as we took our business to the Internet.