Scientists believe they have identified five different types of diabetes.
A study carried out by researchers from Sweden and Finland identified five replicable clusters of patients with diabetes, which came with significantly different characteristics and risk of different complications.
Diabetes is presently classified into two main forms - type 1 and type 2 - but type 2 diabetes in particular is highly heterogeneous.
The team said its findings could lead to more personalised treatment and also identify those with an increased risk of complications at the stage of diagnosis.
The research, which is published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, found cluster 3 was the most resistant to insulin and individuals had significantly higher risk of diabetic kidney disease than individuals in clusters 4 and 5.
Cluster 2 had the highest risk of retinopathy, which can cause blindness.
The team carried out the research by analysing data on newly diagnosed patients from the Swedish All New Diabetics in Scania cohort.
"This new substratification might eventually help to tailor and target early treatment to patients who would benefit most, thereby representing a first step towards precision medicine in diabetes," the researchers said.
Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person's blood sugar level to become too high and is linked to a poor diet, obesity and an inactive lifestyle.
There are almost 3.7 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK.
Type 1 diabetes is less common, affecting around 10% of those with diabetes.
It is also a serious lifelong condition, and occurs when the body cannot make the hormone insulin.
It is the most common type of diabetes in childhood but can develop at any age.