This paper examines the prevalence of retinopathy in 2 diabetic populations from the Newcastle and Hunter Valley regions. Overall, 49% of patients attending a large diabetic clinic had retinopathy. 15% had proliferative retinopathy, macular involvement or threatened macular involvement, the stages of retinopathy in which photocoagulation may be indicated to preserve vision. A comparable study of known diabetics in the town of Singleton demonstrated prevalence rates of 36% and 11% respectively. The close relationship of retinopathy prevalence to the duration and age at onset of diabetes is also presented, and simple guidelines for the planning of eye examinations for diabetics are proposed.