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Everyone’s Talking Conjunctivitis Thanks To NBC News Anchor Bob Costas

If you have been watching the prime time coverage of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, you are probably aware of Bob Costas’ epic run-in with an eye infection.

On Friday, February 7th, just as the NBC news anchor’s battle was beginning, it was broadcast for all the world to see. According to the Washington Times, Costas had been wearing glasses since the start of the Sochi Olympics due to an infection in his left eye. His eye appeared swollen, pink, irritated, and painful during the early broadcast, and got progressively worse from there. His condition garnered so much attention that it actually spawned its own Twitter account. Social media exploded with a wide range of comments.

Costas told the New York Times that the problem first started on Thursday, February 6th. “You hear it called pinkeye or conjunctivitis, but, as a practical matter, I haven’t had it before. You have swelling and stinging and burning and eventually tearing,” Costas told the New York Times.

He endured for several days. On Monday’s broadcast, it became clear that the infection had spread to his other eye and, when he woke up Tuesday, both eyes were swollen and crusted shut.

His painful condition temporarily removed him from the anchor chair, a position that he had consistently filled since the late ’80s. “I don’t feel that bad,” Costas insisted. “The irony of it is, we’ve all felt bad — worse than I feel right now — and gone to work. We’re lucky to have the jobs we have. I’ve done a lot of ballgames and events feeling much less than my best. But in this case, it’s involuntary. It’s an eye infection, and my eyes are so blurry and watery, and have become so light sensitive, that even in dim light they’re constantly tearing up. And so, I can’t possibly be in the studio. It’s not a case of just saying ‘Oh, what the heck — I’ll go in, not feeling well’.”

Matt Lauer stepped in for Costas and could not hide his exhaustion from doing double duty for three days. Meredith Vieira made history by replacing Lauer and becoming the first woman to ever anchor NBC’s prime time Olympic coverage solo. NBC Olympics Executive Producer Jim Bell explained to TODAY.com from Sochi: “Bob’s eye issue has improved but he’s not quite ready to do the show. If your eyes are sensitive to bright lights, a TV studio is not the place to be.”

CBS reporter, Ryan Jaslow, reported that Costas said he had a viral infection. “If it was just discomfort, I’d be there,” Costas said in the news release. “I’m receiving excellent treatment…it’s a viral infection, and all you can do is try to manage the symptoms while the virus runs its course.”

So, What is Conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva, the thin transparent layer of tissue that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye. Conjunctivitis, often called “pink eye,” is a common eye disease that may be caused by a viral or bacterial infection or allergic reaction and can be highly contagious. Many times if you have a cold you might develop a simultaneous conjunctivitis. Cool compresses decrease swelling and itching. Artificial tears dilute the allergens and form a protective barrier over the surface of the eye. Rubbing the eyes makes symptoms worse and should be avoided.

When experiencing redness, sensitivity to light, swelling and/or discharge that makes your lids stick together, or pain, take a cue from Costas and make sure you seek out medical attention. Your course of treatment is dependent upon what you are suffering from—bacterial, viral, or allergic.

Feel free to contact us at 732-774-5566 if you need treatment. Our doctors will get you back on track with individualized treatment and follow-up. This past Sunday, Costas felt well enough to return to the studio while one of his replacements, Matt Lauer, covered for the last time. He returned last night for his prime time and late night hosting duties, thankful for the team who covered for him during his six day absence.

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