Diabetic retinopathy (DR), the most common microvascular complication of diabetes and leading cause of visual impairment in adults worldwide, is suggested to be linked to abnormal lipid metabolism. The present study aims to comprehensively investigate the relationship between n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and DR. This was a propensity score matching based case-control study, including 69 pairs of DR patients and type 2 diabetic patients without DR with mean age of 56.7 ± 9.2 years. Five n-6 PUFAs were determined by UPLC-ESI-MS / MS system. Principle component regression (PCR) and multiple conditional logistic regression models were used to investigate the association of DR risk with n-6 PUFAs depending on independent training and testing sets, respectively. According to locally weighted regression model, we observed obvious negative correlation between levels of five n-6 PUFAs (linoleic acid, γ-linolenic acid, eicosadienoic acid, dihomo-γ-linolenic acid and arachidonic acid) and DR. Based on multiple PCR model, we also observed significant negative association between the five n-6 PUFAs and DR with adjusted OR (95% CI) as 0.62 (0.43,0.87). When being evaluated depending on the testing set, the association was still existed, and PCR model had excellent classification performance, in which area under the curve (AUC) was 0.88 (95%CI: 0.78, 0.99). In addition, the model also had valid calibration with a non-significant Hosmer-Lemeshow Chi-square of 9.44 (P = 0.307) in the testing set. n-6 PUFAs were inversely associated with the presence of DR, and the principle component could be potential indicator in distinguishing DR from other T2D patients.