optic radiation

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1. a proceeding outward from a common center.
2. a structure made up of parts that go outward from a center, especially a tract of the central nervous system made up of fibers that go out in different dfirections.
3. energy carried by waves or a stream of particles. One type is electromagnetic radiation, which consists of wave motion of electric and magnetic fields. The quantum theory is based on the fact that electromagnetic waves consist of discrete “packets” of electromagnetic radiation, called photons, which have neither mass nor charge and have an energy inversely proportional to the wavelength of the wave. In order of increasing photon energy and decreasing wavelength, the electromagnetic spectrum is divided into radio waves, infrared light, visible light, ultraviolet light, and x-rays. 

Another type is the radiation emitted by radioactive materials. alpha particles are high-energy helium-4 nuclei consisting of two protons and two neutrons, emitted by radioisotopes of heavy elements such as uranium. beta particles are high-energy electrons emitted by radioisotopes of lighter elements. gamma rays are high-energy photons emitted along with alpha and beta particles and also emitted alone by metastable radionuclides, such as technetium-99m. Gamma rays have energies in the x-ray region of the spectrum and differ from x-rays only in that they are produced by radioactive decay rather than by x-ray machines.

Radiation with enough energy to knock electrons out of atoms and produce ions is called ionizing radiation and includes alpha particles, beta particles, x-rays, and gamma rays. This kind of radiation can produce tissue damage directly by striking a vital molecule, such as DNA, or indirectly by striking a water molecule and producing highly reactive free radicals that chemically attack vital molecules. The effects of radiation can kill cells, make them unable to reproduce, or cause nonlethal mutations, producing cancer cells or birth defects in offspring. The radiosensitivity of normal tissues or cancer cells increases with their rate of cell division and decreases with their rate of cell specialization. Highly radiosensitive cells include lymphocytes, bone marrow hematopoietic cells, germ cells, and intestinal epithelial cells. Radiosensitive cancers include leukemias and lymphomas, seminoma, dysgerminoma, granulosa cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma of the gastric epithelium, and squamous cell carcinoma of skin, mouth, nose and throat, cervix, and bladder.

The application of radiation, whether by x-ray or radioactive substances, for treatment of various illnesses is called radiation therapy or radiotherapy.

Three types of units are used to measure ionizing radiation. The roentgen (R) is a unit of exposure dose applicable only to x-rays and gamma rays. It is the amount of radiation that produces 2.58 × 10−4 coulomb of positive and negative ions passing through 1 kilogram of dry air. The rad is a unit of absorbed dose equal to 100 ergs of energy absorbed per 1 g of absorbing material; the absorbed dose depends both on the type of radiation and on the material in which it is absorbed. The rem is a unit of absorbed dose equivalent that produces the same biologic effect as 1 rad of high-energy x-rays. For beta and gamma radiation, 1 rem is approximately equal to 1 rad; for alpha radiation, 1 rad is approximately 20 rem.

Previously, doses administered in radiation therapy were commonly specified as measured exposure doses in roentgens. The current practice is to specify the absorbed dose in the tissue or organ of interest in rads. Many personnel monitoring devices read out in rems. Eventually, the rad and rem may be replaced by the new SI units, the gray and sievert; 1 gray equals 100 rad, and 1 sievert equals 100 rem.
Radiation Hazards. Harmful effects of radiation include serious disturbances of bone marrow and other blood-forming organs, burns, and sterility. There may be permanent damage to genes, which results in genetic mutations. The mutations can be transmitted to future generations. Radiation also may produce harmful effects on the embryo or fetus, bringing about fetal death or malformations. Long-term studies of groups of persons exposed to radiation have shown that radiation acts as a carcinogen; that is, it can produce cancer, especially leukemia. It also may predispose persons to the development of cataracts. 

Exposure to large doses of radiation over a short period of time produces a group of symptoms known as the acute radiation syndrome. These symptoms include general malaise, nausea, and vomiting, followed by a period of remission of symptoms. Later, the patient develops more severe symptoms such as fever, hemorrhage, fluid loss, anemia, and central nervous system involvement. The symptoms then gradually subside or become more severe, and may lead to death.
Radiation Protection. In order to avoid the radiation hazards mentioned above, one must be aware of the three basic principles of time, distance, and shielding involved in protection from radiation. Obviously, the longer one stays near a source of radiation the greater will be the exposure. The same is true of proximity to the source; the closer one gets to a source of radiation the greater the exposure. 

Shielding is of special importance when time and distance cannot be completely utilized as safety factors. In such instances lead, which is an extremely dense material, is used as a protective device. The walls of diagnostic x-ray rooms are lined with lead, and lead containers are used for radium, cobalt-60, and other radioactive materials used in radiotherapy.

Monitoring devices such as the film badge, thermoluminescent dosimeter, or pocket monitor are worn by persons working near sources of radiation. These devices contain special detectors that are sensitive to radiation and thus serve as guides to the amount of radiation to which a person has been exposed. For monitoring large areas in which radiation hazards may pose a problem, survey meters such as the Geiger counter may be used. The survey meter also is useful in finding sources of radiation such as a radium implant, which might be lost.

Sensible use of these protective and monitoring devices can greatly reduce unnecessary exposure to radiation and allow for full realization of the many benefits of radiation.
Penetrating capacity of different types of radiation. From Ignatavicius and Workman, 2002.
Radiation is emitted by radioactive material. Radiation quantity is measured in roentgens, rads, or rems, depending on precise use. From Bushong, 2001.
corpuscular radiation particles emitted in nuclear disintegration, including alpha and beta particles, protons, neutrons, positrons, and deuterons.
electromagnetic radiation energy, unassociated with matter, that is transmitted through space by means of waves (electromagnetic waves) traveling in all instances at 3×1010 cm or 186,284 miles per second, but ranging in length from 1011 cm (electrical waves) to 10−12 cm (cosmic rays) and including radio waves, infrared, visible light and ultraviolet, x-rays, and gamma rays.
extrafocal radiation radiation that arises from a source other than the focal spot of the x-ray tube.
infrared radiation the portion of the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation of wavelengths between 0.75 and 1000 μm; see also infrared.
interstitial radiation energy emitted by radium, radon, or some other radiopharmaceutical inserted directly into the tissue; see also radiation therapy.
ionizing radiation corpuscular or electromagnetic radiation that is capable of producing ions, directly or indirectly, in its passage through matter. See also radiation.
optic radiation either of two large fan-shaped fiber tracts in the brain extending from the lateral geniculate body on either side to the striate cortex
primary radiation that coming directly from a source, such as a radioactive substance or an x-ray tube, without interactions with matter.
pyramidal radiation fibers extending from the pyramidal tract to the cortex.
scatter radiation (secondary radiation) that generated by the interaction of primary radiation with matter. See illustration.
Three types of radiation—the useful beam, leakage radiation, and scatter radiation. From Bushong, 2001.
striothalamic radiation a fiber system joining the thalamus and the hypothalamic region.
tegmental radiation fibers radiating laterally from the nucleus ruber.
thalamic r's fibers streaming out through the lateral surface of the thalamus, through the internal capsule to the cerebral cortex.
ultraviolet radiation the portion of the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation of wavelengths between 0.39 and 0.18 μm; see also ultraviolet rays.

op·tic ra·di·a·tion

the massive, fanlike fiber system passing from the lateral geniculate body of the thalamus to the visual cortex (striate or calcarine cortex, Brodmann area 17); the fibers follow the retrolenticular and sublenticular limbs of the internal capsule into the corona radiata but they curve back along the lateral wall of the temporal and occipital horns of the lateral ventricle to the striate cortex on the medial surface and pole of the occipital lobe.

optic radiation

Etymology: Gk, optikos, sight; L, radiare, to shine
a system of fibers from the lateral geniculate body of the thalamus that pass through the sublenticular part of the internal capsule to the striate area.

op·tic ra·di·a·tion

(op'tik rā'dē-ā'shŭn) [TA]
The massive, fanlike fiber system passing from the lateral geniculate body of the thalamus to the visual cortex; the fibers follow the retrolenticular and sublenticular limbs of the internal capsule into the corona radiata but they curve back along the lateral wall of the temporal and occipital horns of the lateral ventricle to the striate cortex on the medial surface and pole of the occipital lobe.
Synonym(s): radiatio optica.


Louis P., French anatomist, physiologist, and physician, 1815-1865.
Gratiolet fibers - the massive fanlike fiber system passing from the lateral geniculate body of the thalamus to the visual cortex. Synonym(s): Gratiolet radiation; optic radiation
Gratiolet radiation - Synonym(s): Gratiolet fibers


Karl, German neurologist, 1848-1905.
Gayet-Wernicke syndrome - Synonym(s): Wernicke syndrome
Wernicke aphasia - impairment in the comprehension of spoken and written words. Synonym(s): Bastian aphasia; sensory aphasia
Wernicke area - Synonym(s): Wernicke center
Wernicke center - the region of the cerebral cortex thought to be essential for understanding and formulating coherent, propositional speech. Synonym(s): sensory speech center; Wernicke area; Wernicke field; Wernicke region; Wernicke zone
Wernicke cramp - psychogenic muscle cramp. Synonym(s): cramp neurosis
Wernicke disease - Synonym(s): Wernicke syndrome
Wernicke encephalopathy - Synonym(s): Wernicke syndrome
Wernicke field - Synonym(s): Wernicke center
Wernicke radiation - the massive, fanlike fiber system passing from the lateral geniculate body of the thalamus to the visual cortex. Synonym(s): optic radiation
Wernicke reaction - in hemianopia, a reaction due to damage of the optic tract, consisting in loss of pupillary constriction when the light is directed to the blind side of the retina. Synonym(s): Wernicke sign
Wernicke region - Synonym(s): Wernicke center
Wernicke sign - Synonym(s): Wernicke reaction
Wernicke syndrome - a condition encountered in chronic alcoholics, characterized by disturbances in ocular motility, pupillary alterations, nystagmus, and ataxia with tremors. Synonym(s): Gayet disease; Gayet-Wernicke syndrome; superior hemorrhagic polioencephalitis; Wernicke disease; Wernicke encephalopathy
Wernicke zone - Synonym(s): Wernicke center
Wernicke-Korsakoff encephalopathy
Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome - the coexistence of Wernicke and Korsakoff syndromes.
Wernicke-Mann hemiplegia - extremity hemiplegia that is partial. Synonym(s): Wernicke-Mann paralysis
Wernicke-Mann paralysis - Synonym(s): Wernicke-Mann hemiplegia


of or pertaining to the eye.

optic chiasma
see optic chiasm.
optic cortex
see visual cortex.
optic cup activity
optic disk
the disk in the fundus of the eye marking the point at which the optic nerve enters; it is accompanied by blood vessels, is oval, light in color and the blind spot of the retina.
optic nerve
the second cranial nerve; it is purely sensory and is concerned with carrying impulses for the sense of sight. The rods and cones of the retina are connected with the optic nerve which leaves the eye slightly to the nasal side of the center of the retina. The point at which the optic nerve leaves the eye is called the blind spot because there are no rods and cones in this area. The optic nerve passes through the optic foramen of the skull and into the cranial cavity. It then passes backward and undergoes a division; those nerve fibers leading from the nasal side of the retina cross to the opposite side in the optic chiasma while those from the temporal side continue to the thalamus uncrossed. The nerve tracts proceeding backward from the optic chiasm, pass around the cerebral peduncle, and dividing into a lateral and medial root, which end in the superior colliculus and lateral geniculate body, respectively. After synapsing in the thalamus the neurons convey visual impulses to the occipital lobe of the brain.
Injury to the nerve leads to partial or complete loss of sight on the opposite side. Commonly bilateral.
optic nerve aplasia
an uncommon congenital anomaly, most frequently seen in Collie dogs; affected animals are blind from birth. Hypovitaminosis A and prenatal infection with bovine virus diarrhea are possible causes.
optic nerve inflammation
optic neuritis.
optic primordia
the eyes begin in the embryo as a pair of shallow optic grooves on each side of the developing forebrain. The grooves form optic vesicles which invaginate to form a double-walled optic cup.
optic radiation
fibers from the lateral geniculate body entering the occipital cortex.
optic stalk
the evagination from the neural tube of the developing embryo which develops the optic cup at its extremity; the stalk persists as the optic nerve.
optic sulcus
see optic groove.
optic vesicle
the initial evagination from the neural tube which gives rise to the optic cup and the optic stalk.