To document the rate of self-reported compliance and glaucoma-related knowledge in Swiss patients and to identify risk factors for their poor compliance. This was an observational study, including a total of 200 consecutive patients already under glaucoma medication in two Swiss tertiary glaucoma clinics (Geneva and Bern). Personal characteristics, presence of systemic disease, compliance with glaucoma medication, attitude to the ophthalmologist, and glaucoma-related attitudes were ascertained by means of a predetermined questionnaire with 40 questions. Patients were subsequently assessed for the ability to correctly instil placebo eye drops. Non-compliance with glaucoma medication was defined as omitting more than two doses a week as reported by the patient. Logistic regression was used to evaluate how patient characteristics and knowledge about the disease were related to compliance. Overall, 81% (n = 162) of patients reported to be compliant. Forgetfulness was the most frequently cited reason for non-compliance with dosing regimen (63%). Although 90.5% (n = 181) of patients believed glaucoma medication to be efficient, only 28% (n = 56) could correctly define glaucoma. Factors positively associated with compliance were 'knowledge of glaucoma' [adjusted odds ratio (OR) 4.77 (95% CI 1.36-16.70)] and 'getting help for administration of drops' [OR 2.95 (1.25-6.94)]. These findings indicate that despite the comparatively high compliance rate among glaucoma patients, knowledge of glaucoma remains poor in long-term glaucoma sufferers. Improving knowledge about the disease is important since it is positively associated with compliance in our study.