Eye infections force Costas to miss Olympics coverage

An infection that began in Bob Costas' left eye last week spread to his right eye, forcing the sports anchor to sit out Tuesday night's coverage of the Winter Olympics on NBC

For the first time in 26 years, Bob Costas was not the host of NBCâ??s primetime Olympic coverage Tuesday night.

He took the evening off as he continues to deal with infections in both of his eyes. TODAY Show anchor Matt Lauer filled in for Costas.

The exact details of Costasâ?? eye infections are unknown, but it is believed that the sports anchor is suffering from pinkeye.

However, Dr. Angela Jackson, an optometrist at the Quality Family Eyecare clinic in Rossford, says the term pinkeye is generic, and doesnâ??t tell the whole story.

Thatâ??s because there are different types of pinkeye. Dr. Jackson says the infection can be either viral or bacterial in nature, and is sometimes related to the time of year or tied to an allergic reaction.

So how can you tell the difference? Dr. Jackson says the most common type of pinkeye is the viral form, and is often associated with a cold or upper respiratory infection. Symptoms include watery, red eyes, and can sometimes spread from one eye to the other, with the infection typically lasting from two to three weeks. Doctors will usually let this type of pinkeye run its course on its own, but may prescribe a steroid eye drop to help alleviate the symptoms.

If you have the bacterial form of pinkeye, youâ??ll experience goopy eyes that may crust over while you sleep, with frequent discharges. Dr. Jackson says treatment consists of using an antibiotic eye drop.

Dr. Jackson says if you suspect you may have an eye infection, consult your eye doctor as soon as possible. A simple test can determine if itâ??s a viral or bacterial infection, or something else all together. People who wear contacts who develop an infection would have to forgo wearing them until the infection is cleared, according to Dr. Jackson.

Both the viral and bacterial form of pink eye are highly contagious. The best ways to avoid developing an infection is to avoid people who are sick; by not sharing towels or pillows and keeping them clean; using antibiotic wipes in your home in places such as your kitchen and bathroom; and by frequently washing your hands with soap and water to prevent rubbing anything harmful into your eyes.

As for Costas, he says he hopes to return to the air as soon as possible, but that will depend on how his eyes heal in the coming days.