Teleretinal/teleophthalmological programs that use existing health information technology infrastructure solutions for people with diabetes increase access to and adherence to appropriate eye care. Teleophthalmological studies indicate that the single act of patients viewing their own retinal images improves self-management behaviour and clinical outcomes. In some settings this can be done at lower cost and with improved visual outcomes compared with standard eye care. Cost-effective and sustainable teleretinal surveillance for detection of diabetic retinopathy requires a combination of an inexpensive portable device for taking low light-level retinal images without the use of pharmacological dilation of the pupil and a computer-assisted methodology for rapidly detecting and diagnosing diabetic retinopathy. A more holistic telehealth-care paradigm augmented with the use of health information technology, medical devices, mobile phone and mobile health applications and software applications to improve health-care co-ordination, self-care management and education can significantly impact a broad range of health outcomes, including prevention of diabetes-associated visual loss. This approach will require a collaborative, transformational, patient-centred health-care program that integrates data from medical record systems with remote monitoring of data and a longitudinal health record. This includes data associated with social media applications and personal mobile health technology and should support continuous interactions between the patient, health-care team and the patient's social environment. Taken together, this system will deliver contextually and temporally relevant decision support to patients to facilitate their well-being and to reduce the risk of diabetic complications.