Background: The proportion of diabetic patients having vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy and those needing to undergo vitrectomy was documented.

Methods: A cross-sectional observational study was conducted at a tertiary care hospital in coastal Karnataka, South India. All patients with diabetes mellitus visiting the ophthalmology department in the study period were screened for retinopathy, and the data regarding the presence of maculopathy and proliferative retinopathy were included as vision-threatening retinopathy.

Results: Of the 1,435 diabetic patients included, 38.4% had retinopathy changes due to diabetes, with 8.71% having vision-threatening retinopathy and 1.81% needing vitrectomy.

Conclusion: Although the proportion of vision-threatening retinopathy is small, the rapidly increasing diabetic population requires the setting up of more resources for tackling this condition, at least at the tertiary levels of the health-care system. However, considering the increased human and economic resources involved in setting up vitrectomy units, more emphasis on strengthening screening programs for early detection and referral to reduce the progression of retinopathy to advanced stages would be appropriate.