Purpose To investigate associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the VEGFC gene and the development of diabetic retinopathy (DR) in white patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) or type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Design Cross-sectional, case control study. Participants White patients with T1DM or T2DM (n = 2899) were recruited from ophthalmology and endocrine clinics in Australia and the United Kingdom. Patients with T2DM were required to have diabetes mellitus (DM) for at least 5 years and be receiving oral hypoglycemic treatment or insulin. Methods Participants were categorized according to their worst-ever DR grading, as having "no DR" (no history of nonproliferative DR [NPDR], proliferative DR [PDR], or diabetic macular edema [DME]) or "any DR" (further subclassified as NPDR or PDR, without or with DME). Clinical characteristics, glycemic control (hemoglobin A1c [HbA1c]), and presence of diabetic complications were determined at recruitment. Genotyping was performed for 13 VEGFC tag SNPs. Main Outcome Measures Odds ratios (ORs) were determined for associations with DR of VEGFC tag SNPs, individually and within haplotypes. Logistic regression was used to adjust for clinical covariates, including DM type, age, sex, DM duration, hypertension, nephropathy, HbA1c, and smoking. Results Participants with DM but "no DR" (n = 980) were compared with 1919 participants with DM and "any DR." Three VEGFC SNPs were associated with DR after logistic regression: rs17697419 (P = 0.001; OR, 0.67; confidence interval [CI], 0.52-0.85), rs17697515 (P = 0.001; OR, 0.62; CI, 0.47-0.81), and rs2333526 (P = 0.005; OR, 0.69; CI, 0.54-0.90). rs17697515 Was also specifically associated with DME in those with T2DM (P = 0.004; OR, 0.53; CI, 0.35-0.82). Haplotype analysis revealed 2 significantly associated haplotypes, both protective against DR development. Conclusions Significant associations were found between VEGFC tag SNPs (individually and within haplotypes) and the presence of any DR or DME in white participants with T1DM and T2DM.