Data from all patients registered blind from diabetic retinopathy in Avon during a 16 month period were analysed with regard to management before hospital referral. The main findings were: 50% of the patients had no screening for retinopathy and were known to be diabetic; 25% were regularly screened for retinopathy (three quarters by local opticians); 22% were newly diagnosed as diabetic at the time of hospital referral. The degree of visual loss at the time of first hospital attendance was found to be marked (average 4.4 Snellen lines of acuity) but was not significantly different for different sources of referral. Only one eye of one patient had normal acuity at first attendance and 88% had lost two or more lines; 72% of registrations were a result of diabetic maculopathy. Delay from waiting for hospital appointments did not contribute significantly to the outcome in the group of patients studied.