In previous studies on diabetic retinopathy it has not been possible to relate risk factors to reduced vision because of the influence of vision-preserving treatment. Demographic data, cardiovascular risk factors and ocular features from the diabetic population of the Seychelles are described. Diabetic retinopathy in this population had not been modified by laser treatment. The population described consists of entirely type 2, maturity onset diabetics. Using a multivariate logistic regression model, the risk factors were deduced for three outcome variables: (1) reduced vision, defined as 6/36 or worse in both eyes; (2) the presence of diabetic retinopathy; and (3) the presence of maculopathy, preproliferative and proliferative retinopathy, grouped as severe retinopathy. Insulin treatment was associated with all outcome variables, duration from diagnosis of diabetes with retinopathy of all forms, and increasing age with reduced vision and severe retinopathy. Hypertensive diabetic patients were twice as likely to have reduced vision as compared with non-hypertensive diabetic individuals.