With increasing global prevalence of diabetes, diabetic retinopathy (DR) is set to be the principle cause of vision impairment in many countries. DR affects a third of people with diabetes and the prevalence increases with duration of diabetes, hyperglycemia, and hypertension-the major risk factors for the onset and progression of DR. There are now increasing data on the epidemiology of diabetic macular edema (DME), an advanced complication of DR, with studies suggesting DME may affect up to 7 % of people with diabetes. The risk factors for DME are largely similar to DR, but dyslipidemia appears to play a more significant role. Early detection of DR and DME through screening programs and appropriate referral for therapy is important to preserve vision in individuals with diabetes. Future research is necessary to better understand the potential role of other risk factors such as apolipoproteins and genetic predisposition to shape public health programs.