In many cases, blindness due to diabetic retinopathy can be prevented provided treatment with laser photocoagulation is used at the correct time. A screening programme is required to identify cases of sight threatening retinopathy. An optical practice based diabetic eye screening programme has been established in Dorset. The optometrist undertaking the examination is paid a fee. The findings are recorded on a coded form and sent to the hospital diabetologist who recalls positive cases. Seventy-six optical practices have joined the scheme and 3224 patients have been screened in the first 6 months (Dorset population 655,000). In the Poole area (population 230,000), 1922 patients were screened and 129 (6.7%) were recalled in 6 months. Outcome of 3 months screening, identified 59 recalls. Referral to the opthalmologist was made in 15 cases for potentially sight threatening retinopathy, 14 cases were followed in the diabetic clinic for significant background retinopathy, and 24 cases were returned to the annual screening in the optical practices. Six cases where the patients either failed or were unable to attend were reviewed by the GP. An optical practice based diabetic eye screening programme has been successful in screening a large number of patients.