Retinal imaging is a fundamental tool for clinical and research efforts in the evaluation and management of diabetic retinopathy. Adaptive optics (AO) is an imaging technique that enables correction of over 90% of the optical aberrations of an individual eye induced primarily by the tear film, cornea and lens. The two major tasks of any AO system are to measure the optical imperfections of the eye and to then compensate for these aberrations to generate a corrected wavefront of reflected light from the eye. AO scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (AOSLO) provides a theoretical lateral resolution limit of 1.4 μm, allowing the study of microscopic features of the retinal vascular and neural tissue. AOSLO studies have revealed irregularities of the photoreceptor mosaic, vascular loss, and details of vascular lesions in diabetic eyes that may provide new insight into development, regression, and response to therapy of diabetic eye disease.