Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a common microvascular complication of diabetes mellitus. The evidence connecting dietary intake and DR is emerging, but uncertain. We conducted a systematic review to comprehensively summarize the current understanding of the associations between dietary consumption, DR and diabetic macular edema (DME). We systematically searched PubMed, Embase, Medline, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials between January 1967 to May 2022 for all studies investigating the effect of diet on DR and DME. Of the 4962 articles initially identified, 54 relevant articles were retained. Our review found that higher intakes of fruits, vegetables, dietary fibers, fish, a Mediterranean diet, oleic acid, and tea were found to have a protective effect against DR. Conversely, high intakes of diet soda, caloric intake, rice, and choline were associated with a higher risk of DR. No association was seen between vitamin C, riboflavin, vitamin D, and milk and DR. Only one study in our review assessed dietary intake and DME and found a risk of high sodium intake for DME progression. Therefore, the general recommendation for nutritional counseling to manage diabetes may be beneficial to prevent DR risk, but prospective studies in diverse diabetic populations are needed to confirm our findings and expand clinical guidelines for DR management.