The incidence of diabetic retinopathy is still increasing in developed countries. Tight glycemic control and laser therapy reduce vision loss and blindness, but do not reverse existing ocular damage and only slow the progression of the disease. New pharmacologic agents that are currently under development and are specifically directed against clearly defined biochemical targets (i.e. aldose reductase inhibitors and protein kinase C-beta inhibitors) have failed to demonstrate significant efficacy in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy in clinical trials. In contrast, calcium dobesilate (2,5-dihydroxybenzenesulfonate), which was discovered more than 40 years ago and is registered for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy in more than 20 countries remains, to our knowledge, the only angioprotective agent that reduces the progression of this disease. An overall review of published studies involving calcium dobesilate (CLS 2210) depicts a rather 'non-specific' compound acting moderately, but significantly, on the various and complex disorders that contribute to diabetic retinopathy. Recent studies have shown that calcium dobesilate is a potent antioxidant, particularly against the highly damaging hydroxyl radical. In addition, it improves diabetic endothelial dysfunction, reduces apoptosis, and slows vascular cell proliferation.