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By Vinershea | Jan 13, 2020 10:43 AM

In a bizarre case, patients who were undergoing radiotherapy to treat cancer seen flashes of light in front of their eyes during treatment. These flashes were also seen when the patients eyes were closed.

Light flashes from human eye during radiation therapy 

Such a method was captured on camera for the first time by scientists at Dartmouth’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center (NCCC). This method has been termed as Cherenkov Emissions or Cherenkov Radiation.

According to Sputnik News report, this 'visual sensations' happens because enough light is produced inside the eye. Because of this, the same effect causes nuclear reactors to glow blue when they are underwater. Also, the radiation beam passes through the clear gel of the eye leading to a faint emission, that lasts for a fraction of a second.

As a result, this discovery could help improve radiation treatments. The team of scientists used a special camera called 'CDose' to find direct evidence of Cherenkov Emissions during radiotherapy, reports Sputnik.

Watch video below:


Researchers have captured Cherenkov light being generated inside a patient's eyeball for the first time. ​ ​For decades, people undergoing radiotherapy, which is used to treat cancer, have reported a bizarre phenomenon: Seeing flashes of light in their eyes, even when their eyes are closed. Patients documented in the medical literature have described a ‘‘ray of blue light" and ‘‘seeing a blue neon light", sometimes accompanied by a "white smell" during the delivery of radiation, lasting for a fraction of a second. There have been several theories for why this could be happening, including retinal pigments inside patients' eyes being stimulated during the therapy, or that Cherenkov light or Cherenkov radiation – the same effect that makes nuclear reactors glow blue when they're underwater – is produced inside the eyeball itself. Now scientists have captured this strange light for the first time, producing the first photographic evidence that the phenomenon is in fact Cherenkov light. ​ ​Cherenkov light is electromagnetic radiation that's emitted when a charged particle passes through matter at a greater speed than the speed of light (within that medium), producing an effect like a sonic boom, which occurs when, for example, a plane travels faster than the speed of sound. Researchers from Dartmouth-Hitchcock's Norris Cotton Cancer Center – who published their work in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology – used a CDose camera imaging system, specially designed to view light emissions from biological systems. "Our newest data is exciting because for the first time, light emission from the eye of a patient undergoing radiotherapy was captured," co-lead Irwin Tendler of Dartmouth College said in a statement. ​ ​"As the radiation beam passes through the eye, light is generated within the vitreous fluid. Our real-time data rigorously showed that the amount of light produced is sufficient to elicit a visual sensation – a topic that has been debated in the literature. By analyzing the spectral composition, we also show that this emission can be classified as Cherenkov light – again, another contested point in the literature." ​ ​Image: Lesley Jarvis

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