AIMS: Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is often asymptomatic even in its more advanced stages. Timely and repeated screening for DR avoids a late diagnosis of DR, but the high number of diabetic patients precludes a frequent screening; thus, the need for a method to identify patients at higher risk for DR becomes crucial. METHODS: A prospective analysis of 5034 type 2 diabetic patients followed from 1996 to 2007 and not affected by retinopathy at the time of the recruitment was performed. Patients were randomly divided (ratio 2:1) into two groups: the train data set and the test set (3327 and 1707 patients, respectively). Factors associated with the occurrence of DR were assessed by the Cox's proportional hazard model. RESULTS: Duration of diabetes, glycosylated hemoglobin, systolic blood Pressure, male gender, albuminuria and diabetes therapy other than diet were all significantly associated with the occurrence of DR. CONCLUSIONS: The nomogram could help in ranking the type 2 diabetic patients at higher risk to develop DR and thus with a need for more frequent ophthalmologic checks, without enhancing neither the time nor the costs.