While many systemic diseases have ophthalmic manifestations with visible pathological features affecting the fundus, diabetic eye disease is of particular interest. There are many advantages in using digital image analysis to quantify the extent of retinal pathology in diabetes particularly to monitor its progression. However, the usual method of imaging involves photographing the retina using a fundus camera. Not only does this require that the photographs be digitized prior to analysis, but the resulting illumination across the image is non-uniform and this creates problems in digital image analysis. This paper describes the construction of a scanning laser ophthalmoscope interfaced to a computer, which has a number of significant advantages for digital retinal imaging. Firstly, it has better uniformity of illumination than the fundus camera and operates at much lower light levels. Secondly, it permits imaging at various wavelengths with no consequent degradation in image quality; in particular, the value of imaging at infrared wavelengths to give greater tissue penetration is demonstrated. Finally, by introducing the capability for confocal imaging, tomographic images can be taken, improving the perceptibility of features situated deep in the retina. Typical images are shown to demonstrate the potential of this instrument.