Diabetic eye disease remains a major cause of blindness in the world. Laser treatment for proliferative diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema became available more than two decades ago. The outcome of treatment depends on the timing of laser treatment. The laser treatment is optimally delivered when high-risk characteristics have developed in proliferative retinopathy or diabetic macular edema and before this has significantly affected vision. Laser treatment is usually successful if applied during this optimal period whereas the treatment benefit falls sharply if the treatment is applied too late. In order to optimize the timing of laser treatment in diabetic eye disease screening programs have been established. The oldest screening program is 20 years old and several programs have been established during the last decade. In this paper the organisation and methods of screening programs are described including direct and photographic screening. The incidence and prevalence of blindness is much lower in populations where screening for diabetic eye disease has been established compared to diabetic populations without screening. Technical advantages may allow increased efficiency and telescreening. From a public health standpoint screening for diabetic eye disease is one of the most cost effective health procedures available. Diabetic eye disease can be prevented using existing technology and the cost involved is many times less than the cost of diabetic blindness.