Diabetic retinopathy progresses through three distinct stages. A rational approach to management is based on an understanding of the pathophysiology of each stage. Based on the results of national multicentered clinical trials of laser photocoagulation and other treatments, advances in our understanding of the pathogenesis and treatment can now make a dramatic impact on blindness in the diabetic population: Panretinal laser photocoagulation treatment can reduce the risk of vision loss from high-risk proliferative diabetic retinopathy by at least 50%. Laser photocoagulation treatment of clinically significant diabetic macular edema can reduce the risk of vision loss by more than 50%. Vitrectomy can restore useful vision to some patients with severe diabetic retinopathy and vitreous hemorrhage with or without an accompanying traction retinal detachment. Diabetes 2000 is a new project sponsored by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the goal of which is to eliminate preventable blindness from diabetes by the year 2000. As its name implies, Diabetes 2000 will be a long-term project aimed at a specific disease--diabetic retinopathy and its complications. It will provide the latest research findings to ophthalmologists and primary care physicians as the first priority, followed by the education of patients and the general public. Recent advances and treatment guidelines for the medical and surgical treatment of diabetic eye disease will be emphasized through the continuing education of ophthalmologists, other physicians, and allied health professionals. In later phases, educational programs for diabetic persons and the public will be developed. Ultimately, improved access of diabetic patients to ophthalmologic care and a close working relationship between ophthalmologists and primary care physicians will ensure early detection of diabetic retinopathy and the timely delivery of state-of-the-art treatments.