The Olympic Games bring attention to Bob Costas’s pink eye

As you tune in to watch the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, you may have seen more than star athletes.

Bob Costas is the familiar voice of the Olympic Games, hosting 157 of NBC’s Olympic prime time airings since 1988. However, due to an eye infection he has had to take a break to recover.

“He has a very classical presentation of viral conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye,” says Scott & White optometrist Joseph D. Cessac, OD.

Common Case of Pink Eye

With pink eye, the eye is usually very pink and glassy looking. The upper and lower eyelids usually swell, just as is the case with Costas. Costas alerted viewers of his condition, wearing glasses and trying to carry through with his responsibilities as long as he could.

“Usually the virus begins in one eye and several days later will move to the other eye due to cross-contamination,” says Dr. Cessac. “If you look at him on TV, it looks like he may be in a lot of pain. Usually, patients with pink eye have a sore feeling eye which constantly waters and is also light sensitive.”

Costas said this pain and sensitively is ultimately what got the best of him.

“It was becoming increasingly noticeable and uncomfortable, but if it was just that, I would have continued,” Costas told Sports Illustrated.  He went on to say it go to a practical matter, where he simply could not do his job because his eyes were blurry, watery and light sensitive.

The Today show host Matt Lauer will fill in for Costas, but jokingly said he will sanitize his chair before taking over. This is in part, because pink eye is very contagious.

“Viral conjunctivitis is very common,” says Dr. Cessac. “The virus can live on many objects and is highly contagious. If you do contract this virus it’s very important to wash your hands frequently and try to avoid rubbing the eyes. Also, it’s advised to avoid a lot of contact with small children.”

Despite Pink Eye, the Games Will Go On

As for Costas, the Olympic Games will carry on. But if you contract pink eye, you may need some extra help.

Usually the pink eye virus is adenovirus, which Dr. Cessac says also can give you a runny nose, fever and sore throat.

“If you have what you think is pink eye you should make an appointment to see an optometrist or ophthalmologist quickly so they can establish that there isn’t another, bigger problem,” says Dr. Cessac. “Steroid eye drops work very well to treat the swelling, redness and blurred vision that the virus causes.”

Your immune system will work hard to take care of the virus. Some mild cases do not need treatment, as your body can try to take care of the bug. If you have questions or it gets worse, call your primary care physician.

Costas hopes to be back soon, as he told The New York Times, this was his first time dealing with pink eye. As for you, when tearing or discharge is no longer present, you should be able to go back to your normal activities.

We wish Costas well, and hope to see him back on the air soon.

About the author

Jill Taylor
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I contribute content and skills as a freelance writer for Baylor Scott & White Health. I enjoy improving our connection with our readers, patients and communities by assisting with a wide range of writing projects.

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The Olympic Games bring attention to Bob Costas’s pink eye