The pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy is multifactorial, and a range of hyperglycemia-linked pathways have been implicated in the initiation and progression of this condition. All cells in the retina are affected by the diabetic milieu, and in view of such disease and tissue complexity, it is unlikely that any single process is solely responsible for retinal pathophysiology. Nevertheless, establishing causal mechanisms remains an important research goal. This review concentrates on the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and the role they play in diabetic retinopathy. Perspective is provided on advanced glycation in the retina, the impact that this process has on retinal cell function, and how it relates to other pathogenic pathways. Emphasis is also placed the modulatory role of the receptor for AGEs (RAGE) and how its activation could evoke retinal inflammatory disease. Further research is needed to achieve a clear understanding of the cellular and molecular processes that underpin diabetic retinopathy's initiation and progression. Such advances in basic mechanisms may lead to effective treatments that can prevent progression of retinopathy from the point of the diagnosis of diabetes to sight-threatening proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) and diabetic macular edema (DME).