Diabetic retinopathy (DR) remains a leading cause of preventable vision loss, despite advances in diabetes care. The burden of DR is likely to increase as the evolving pandemic of type 2 diabetes progresses. Tight control of blood glucose levels and blood pressure are essential for preventing or arresting the development of diabetic retinopathy, but are often difficult to achieve, and DR thus develops in a high proportion of patients. Current treatments for DR such as laser photocoagulation, intravitreous injections of corticosteroids or anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) agents are indicated for advanced DR and have significant adverse effects. Therefore, new pharmacological treatments for the early stages of DR are needed. The Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) trial included a lipid management arm, in which patients satisfying additional inclusion criteria for the atherogenic dyslipidemia phenotype were randomly assigned to fenofibrate or placebo, each with a statin. In the ACCORD-EYE substudy, randomization to fenofibrate was associated with a significant reduction in the risk of progression of DR. These data confirm and extend the results of the Fenofibrate Intervention and Event Lowering in Diabetes (FIELD) study, in which type 2 diabetes patients randomized to fenofibrate benefitted from a significantly lower incidence of laser treatment for retinopathy, progression of retinopathy or a composite measure of retinopathy outcomes. The results of ACCORD-EYE, together with those of FIELD, identify a place for fenofibrate for the prevention of retinopathy alongside intensive management of traditional risk factors, such as hyperglycemia and high blood pressure.