NBC broadcaster has people buzzing about pink eye
Among the stories of triumph and disappointment at this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, is one odd tale of a common eye infection. The nation has been captivated by NBC broadcaster Bob Costas’ eyes, which burned red like the one Olympic ring that didn’t unfurl properly in the Opening Ceremonies.
As Costas’ infection took over both eyes, many viewers reacted to his red, inflamed, teary appearance thusly: Ew. It’s true that it may not look pretty, but conjunctivitis (generally referred to as “pink eye”) is a common infection of the conjunctiva—the thin layer that lines the inside of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye. And it’s easily treated.
“The most common causes of conjunctivitis are allergies, viruses, and bacteria,” says Dr. Jennifer DeBruler, an internal medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group. “People who wear contact lenses, especially overnight, are likely to experience allergic conjunctivitis.”
The symptoms of conjunctivitis, according to Dr. DeBruler, include:
- A “gritty” feeling in one or both eyes
- Itching or burning sensation in one or both eyes
- Excessive tearing
- Discharge coming from one or both eyes
- Swollen eyelids
- Pink discoloration to the whites of one or both eyes
- Increased sensitivity to light
“If it’s a case of bacterial pink eye,” says Dr. DeBruler, “your physician may prescribe antibiotics. But in the case of viral conjunctivitis, you may just need eye drops to help alleviate symptoms. See your doctor to determine what kind of conjunctivitis it may be.”
Dr. DeBruler also adds that bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are highly contagious, so if you have pink eye already, you can help prevent its spread by washing your hands frequently using warm, soapy water; avoiding touching and rubbing your eyes; washing your pillowcases and sheets; and not sharing personal products that may come in contact with your eyes, such as makeup or eye drops.
Contact wearers may need to discontinue wearing their lenses while the infection is active. Your doctor can advise you on the need for temporary restrictions on contact lens wear. If the conjunctivitis developed due to wearing contact lenses, your eye doctor may recommend that you switch to a different type of contact lens or disinfection solution.
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