How to tell if your pink eye is viral or bacterial

Published on
January 26, 2023

It is estimated that pink eye is one of the most common eye conditions in the United States, with an estimated 6 million cases occurring annually. It can affect people of all ages and bacterial or viral pink eye is highly contagious, especially in children.

What is pink eye?

Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the clear tissue that lines the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelid. The three main causes of pink eye are; viral infection, bacterial infection, or an allergic reaction. In addition to these main causes there are many other conditions that can cause our eyes to be red, painful, or inflamed, which is why it is always best to visit our optometrist for an eye exam in order to properly diagnose your symptoms.  Knowing the cause of pink eye is important for proper treatment and preventing the spread of infection.

How do I know if my pink eye is viral or bacterial?

Symptoms of viral and bacterial pink eye are similar and can include redness, itching, burning, watering, and discharge from the eye. However, there are some differences that can help differentiate between the two types of pink eye:

  • Viral pink eye often starts in one eye and spreads to the other, and is often accompanied by a cold or other respiratory infection. The discharge is usually watery and clear.
  • Bacterial pink eye usually affects both eyes at the same time, and the discharge is thicker and can be yellow or green.

It's important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other factors such as allergies or irritants, dry eye, eye diseases such as glaucoma, scratched eyes, blepharitis, and many other conditions. If you're experiencing symptoms of pink eye, it's best to see our eye doctor in Bellflower for an eye exam.

How can I get diagnosed and treated for pink eye?

If you suspect you have pink eye, it is best to see our eye doctor near you for an examination. They can diagnose pink eye and determine the cause. They may also perform a culture or other tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment for viral pink eye typically involves self-care measures such as using over-the-counter lubricating drops and avoiding touching or rubbing the eyes. Antibiotics are not effective against viral infections, and the condition usually clears up on its own within 7 to 14 days. 

Bacterial pink eye, on the other hand, is treated with antibiotics, which can be prescribed in the form of eye drops or ointment. It's important to complete the full course of antibiotics as prescribed by our optometrist.

Since there are so many potential causes of pink eye, we recommend seeing our eye doctor to diagnose the cause of your symptoms in order to start the correct treatment and prevent potential complications. 

When should I seek medical attention for pink eye?

If you're experiencing any symptoms of pink eye, it's recommended to seek medical attention. In the event that you are experiencing severe symptoms such as vision loss, severe pain, or have a history of eye disease, call our office right away to schedule an emergency eye exam at (562) 925 6591. One way to find a trusted optometrist is to search for "eye doctor near me", “emergency eye exam near me”, or "eye exam near me". If you live in Bellflower, consider visiting our optometry clinic for an examination. To schedule an appointment, you can call us at (562) 925-6591. Patients with pink eye visit our clinic from all over California, and we are proud to be a leading provider of medical eye care for patients from Bellflower, Long Beach, Lakewood, and Los Angeles.


I haven't actually used the optometrist side, so my review is limited to the vision therapy offered.  This office was recommended by my occupational therapist for the treatment of my double vision following a stroke.

Claire A.

Love this location. I had a brain injury accident from day one one. All the team make you feel you still important and hope in the horizon after when the medical system fell you miserably. Dr. Ikeda very professional and very understanding about your issue. Two tombs up.

Jim K.

My husband and I were immediately impressed with Dr Ikeda. I was hit by a car while cycling which caused broken bones and three brain injuries. The brain injuries caused double vision. Dr. Ikeda examined my eyes and got me started on vision therapy with his occupational therapist who specializes in vision therapy.  She (Chris) is absolutely great.  I am impressed with the array of tools used to help recover my binocular vision.  I am doing things I never thought were possible (balance boards etc).  Chris pushes me and keeps me motivated. I really enjoy my sessions with her.  The office staff is always friendly and they have a wonderful appointment reminder tool that makes it easy to keep my calendar up to date. I am happy the rehab center at Little Co. of Mary recommended them!!

Teresa S.

The Vision Therapy is handled in a separate office through a different door from the shared waiting room. Chris, the vision therapist, has a wide and varied assortment of tools, equipment and resources to best evaluate and treat most vision issues. After just a few visits, my double vision became easier to control, using exercises developed during the therapy process. It was time well-spent.

Joe M.

I have been coming here since I can remember. I love it here. The staff is so amazing and nice. They explain everything they gonna do and never make you feel rushed. Dr. Ikeda has always been my doctor and I would never want another one. He is the doctor for my whole family and is always asking how everyone is doing. I am also so crazy about picking out my frames and have to try so many and each person who helps me take the time and lets me try them all on. I would never want to go anywhere else! I definitely would recommend this office to anyone looking for a great eye doctor.

Kayla W.

This is not for the eye exam but for the frames selection portion. I brought my prescription from Kaiser here with my VSP insurance. The reception staff was very polite and professional.  Manny helped me to pick out frames and explain my coverage.  Very helpful and patient not like the individual at the other place I rated here on Yelp.  I was running late and he still helped me and was not bothered at all.  I am so glad I came here ..........very pleased.

Very professional staff and pleasant.

Daniel G.
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