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Bob Costas describes his pinkeye, conjunctivitis: ‘It’s a viral infection’

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Bob Costas, whose Sochi Olympics primetime coverage has been replaced by Matt Lauer, says about his pinkeye, or conjunctivitis, that “as a practical matter, I simply couldn’t do my job because my eyes had become so blurry, watery and sensitive to light. I’m hopeful the symptoms will improve in the next couple of days and I can return to the broadcast,” reported CBS News on Feb. 11, 2014.

Since 1998, this is the first time that Bob Costas has to hand over covering the Olympics primetime show to someone else. ''I'm walking around, I might as well be playing 'Marco Polo','' he said in a telephone call to the ''Today'' show on Tuesday. ''I have no idea where I am.''

The culprit of Bob Costas’ demise is conjunctivitis, also called pinkeye. Conjunctivitis can be caused by allergens, by bacteria, or by a virus, reports the CDC.

Unlike pinkeye caused by allergens, viral and bacterial conjunctivitis can easily spread from one eye to the other or spread from one person to another. More specifically, conjunctivitis includes a swelling of the thin layer that lines the inside of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye. Symptoms can include itching, pink or a red color in the white of the eye, discharge and crusting, and – as Bob Costas experienced, trouble seeing.

Or as Matt Lauer described the symptoms when opening the broadcast, Bob Costas ''looked a little like a loser in a prize fight.''

Bob Costas has been struggling with conjunctivitis since he began the Sochi Olympics coverage, forcing him to trade in his contacts with glasses. What began as pinkeye in his left eye, spread to his right eye, and being a viral infection, there is no antibiotic that could speed up the healing. Severe cases of pinkeye can take up to three weeks or longer to clear.

“If it was just discomfort, I’d be there,” Bob Costas said in a 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.” Matt Lauer might want to stay on standby.

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