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Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a disease that affects over 170 million people worldwide. In the United States, it is estimated that over 10 million diabetics do not receive the recommended annual eye examinations, significantly increasing their risk of vision loss. In this paper we present an automatic system to detect the presence of DR by analyzing a photograph of the central field of the retina. The system applies Amplitude Modulation-Frequency Modulation (AM-FM) for feature extraction, and partial least squares (PLS) and support vector machines (SVM) for classification. We tested the system on a total of 400 images, and obtained an area under the ROC curve (AUC) of 0.86, and corresponding sensitivity/specificity of 98%/68%. We also tested the accuracy of the system for patients needing immediate referral to a specialist, obtaining an AUC of 0.98.