In recent decades, localized tissue oxidative stress has been implicated as a key component in the development of diabetic retinopathy (DR). Increasing evidence shows that oxidative stress caused by diabetes-induced metabolic abnormalities is the most common mechanism associated with the pathogenesis of DR for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Increase in intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) concentrations results in the activation of several mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of DR. In particular, damage or dysfunction caused by oxidative stress still persists even after glycemia has been normalized. Despite considerable evidence showing the beneficial effects of antioxidants in preventing the development of retinopathy, results from large-scale clinical trials on classic antioxidants are somewhat ambiguous. Scavenging reactive radicals may not be the most ideal antioxidant strategy in DR. Advances in understanding the function of ROS in the development of DR can lead to the development of new therapeutic strategies based on the mechanisms of ROS generation and scavenging. Increasing amounts of data have demonstrated the promising prospect of antioxidant therapy and its beneficial effects in vision protection. Therefore, new strategies that utilize antioxidants as additive therapy should be implemented in the treatment of DR.