The different types of pink eye and their treatment

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pink eye is one of the most common reasons for missed school and work days, with an estimated 6 million cases occurring in the United States each year.

What many people don’t realize is that there are different causes for having red eyes or pink eye. 

The different types of pink eye and their treatment in Olympia

Viral pink eye

Viral pink eye is caused by a virus, such as the common cold or flu, and is highly contagious. It typically starts in one eye and spreads to the other. Symptoms include watery and itchy eyes, light sensitivity, and a clear or slightly yellow discharge. 

Treatment: Treatment includes self-care measures such as applying a warm or cold compress, using artificial tears, and avoiding touching or rubbing the eyes. Antiviral medications may also be prescribed.

Bacterial pink eye

Bacterial pink eye is caused by a bacterial infection and is also contagious. It is often accompanied by a thicker, yellow, or green discharge, which may crust over the eyelashes.

Treatment: Treatment involves the use of antibiotic eye drops or ointment to kill the bacteria and prevent the further spread of the infection.

American Family Vision Clinic

Allergic pink eye

Allergic pink eye is caused by an allergic reaction to substances such as pollen, dust, or makeup. It is not contagious and is characterized by itchy, watery eyes and swelling. 

Treatment: Treatment includes the use of over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines, decongestants, and/or mast cell stabilizers to reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms.

Irritant pink eye

This type of pink eye is caused by exposure to irritants such as smoke, chlorine, or other chemicals.

Treatment: It can be treated by avoiding the irritant and using lubricating eye drops.

If you suspect that you have pink eye, it is important to see our eye doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. Our optometrists can determine the cause of your pink eye and provide the appropriate treatment to help you recover quickly and prevent complications. If you are searching for an eye doctor near you, visit our experienced optometrists in Olympia.

What is pink eye?

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is a common eye condition characterized by inflammation of the conjunctiva (a thin, transparent membrane lining the inside of the eyelid and covering the white part of the eye). This inflammation can cause redness, swelling, and discharge in the whites of the eyes, as well as itching, burning, and a feeling of grit in the eyes.

What is pink eye?
When should I see an eye doctor near me for pink eye?

When should I see an eye doctor near me for pink eye?

If you experience any of the following symptoms, we recommend you to see our eye doctor as soon as possible. While pink eye rarely leads to complications, early treatment can help reduce the risk of spreading the infection to others, reduce the risk of any complications, and can also help alleviate symptoms more quickly.

  • Redness in one or both eyes (red eyes)
  • Swelling of the eyes or eyelids
  • Discharge from the eye(s) that is yellow or green in color
  • Itching or burning sensation in the eye(s)
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye pain

Common Questions

The duration of pink eye also depends on the cause and the effectiveness of treatment. Viral pink eye can last for up to two weeks, while bacterial pink eye may resolve within a week with treatment. Allergic pink eye may persist as long as the allergen is present. If you or your loved one is experiencing pink eye, call us to schedule an emergency eye exam today at (360) 491-2121. We are proud to be a leading provider of advanced eye care for patients from Olympia, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Lacey.
Viral and bacterial pink eye is contagious until the symptoms have resolved or you have started antibiotic treatment. If you or someone you care about has pink eye, please contact us at (360) 491-2121 to schedule an evaluation. We are a leading provider of comprehensive eye care located in Olympia, and we would be happy to assist you.
The different types of pink eye and their treatment
Dr. Zurcher cartoon

Schedule an eye exam for pink eye near you in Olympia

If you or your child has pink eye, it is essential to follow proper hygiene measures to prevent spreading the infection to others. This includes washing your hands frequently, avoiding touching your eyes, and disposing of tissues properly.

As a leading provider of medical and specialized eye care in Olympia, our experienced eye doctors are well-equipped to help patients with a pink eye. If you or a loved one has a pink eye and are located in or around Olympia, please call (360) 491-2121 to schedule a medical eye exam. Patients searching for advanced medical eye care visit our clinic from all over Washington, and we are proud to be a leading provider of medical eye care services for patients from Olympia, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Lacey.



Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

Amy Fagerness
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