The XXII Olympic Winter Games are nearly over and Bob Costas has finally recovered enough from his eye infection to make it back onto the air. On that first night of coverage he acknowledged the obvious raging red and swollen left eye and like many in this situation he expected that it would be better in a couple of days. The next night he returned to the air still wearing the “Peabody and Sherman” glasses but this time looking even worse with involvement beginning in the right eye. Finally his discomfort grew to the point that he was replaced from his reporting duties and later returned to the air this week looking a bit better.
Eye infections, or conjunctivitis, can be bacterial, fungal, or viral. A bacterial infection would be expected to clear up in a few days with antibiotic drops just as Bob Costas had hoped. It is likely that he contracted a viral infection, probably one called Epidemic Keratoconjunctivitis or EKC. This condition is well named as it can (and often does) spread like wildfire. The reports from Sochi indicate that the conditions there are often less than ideal. Although this may have been a contributing factor EKC is spread by respiratory droplets or direct contact of the fingers to the eyes after contact with an infected person or through a contaminated object such as a door knob. The virus can survive on an inanimate object for months making its spread to others even easier. As it may take up to two weeks from exposure to infection it is possible that Costas may have contracted this while traveling or even while still in the USA. It is also possible that the remainder of the those working with him or even using the same television studio may still contract this aggravating illness.
Luckily Mr. Costas did have back-up glasses (even though many online pundits have not talked kindly about his fashion choice). All too often patients come into our office for treatment of eye infections and don’t have glasses to wear while they recover. Even though you may not have plans of hosting an internationally broadcasted television show you should have a plan of how you would handle an eye infection. If you can’t see well enough without contacts to drive, work, attend school, or even just read or watch television for a week you should make a plan to have glasses. We have backup glasses available starting at $119 so there really is very little reason to take a chance.
With luck he should have complete resolution of his symptoms soon. We wish him well as he continues coverage of these Games.