A.M.P.A.S.(r)/Michael YadaIf you’ve ever thought U2 frontman Bono‘s habit of always wearing shades was merely a rock star affectation, well, get ready to eat some crow: turns out there’s a serious medical reason behind it.

On Friday’s episode of BBC TV’s The Graham Norton Show, when host Norton asks Bono if he ever takes off his sunglasses, the 54-year-old singer replies, “This is a good place to explain to people that I’ve had glaucoma for the last 20 years.”

Glaucoma results in a buildup of pressure around the eye, which if untreated can led to nerve damage and even blindness. The eyes of glaucoma sufferers are sensitive to light, which is why many wear shades.

Bono calmed fans’ fears by adding, “I have good treatments and I am going to be fine,” but jokes, “You’re not going to get this out of your head now, and you’ll be saying ‘Ah, poor old blind Bono.'”

The singer also addressed the controversy over the recent release of U2’s new album, Songs of Innocence, which was provided for free to iTunes users worldwide. Many fans resented the fact that the album automatically downloaded into their iTunes playlists.

“We wanted to do something fresh but it seems some people don’t believe in Father Christmas,” Bono tells Norton on Friday’s show. “All those people who were uninterested in U2 are now mad at U2. As far as we are concerned, it’s an improvement.”

The full interview with Bono and the rest of U2 airs Friday night in the U.K.

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