Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in the working-age population in the UK. Despite the available treatments, many patients present late in the course of the disease when treatment is more difficult. If diabetic retinopathy is detected, tightening of the modifiable risk factors (e.g. blood glucose and blood pressure) can slow disease progression. When sight-threatening retinopathy is detected, laser treatment reduces the risk of visual loss. When a stage of advanced retinopathy is detected, vitrectomy operations with modern surgical techniques provide improving results for patients. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.