Objectives To investigate socioeconomic variations in diabetes prevalence, uptake of screening for diabetic retinopathy, and prevalence of diabetic retinopathy. Methods The County of Gloucestershire formed the setting of the study. A cross-sectional study of people with diabetes was done on a countywide retinopathy-screening database. Diabetes prevalence with odds ratios, uptake of screening, prevalence of any retinopathy and prevalence of sight-threatening retinopathy at screening were compared for different area deprivation quintiles. Logistic regression was used to adjust for confounding. Results With each increasing quintile of deprivation, diabetes prevalence increased (odds ratio 0.84), the probability of having been screened for diabetic retinopathy decreased (odds ratio 1.11), and the prevalence of sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy among screened patients increased (odds ratio of 0.98), while the prevalence of non-sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy remained unchanged with each increasing quintile of deprivation. Conclusion Sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy was associated with socioeconomic deprivation, but non-sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy was not. Uptake of screening was inversely related to socioeconomic deprivation.