Abstract The accumulation of radiation-induced defects under non-destructive X-ray and destructive cathodoexcitation was studied in pure silica KS-4V glasses possessing an absorption band at 7.6 eV. The correspondence between the existence of this band and the creation of the E′-center by radiation was checked. Detection of induced defects was accomplished by measurement of the luminescence during irradiation, post irradiation afterglow or phosphorescence, induced optical absorption, and thermally stimulated luminescence. In all samples, these observed phenomena associated with charge trapping and recombination on the oxygen-deficient luminescence center. Others centers of luminescence were not significant contributors. In some samples, the intensity of the 7.6 eV absorption band was deliberately increased by treatment in hydrogen at 1200 C for 100 h. The intensity of luminescence in hydrogen-treated samples was smaller because of the known quenching effect of hydrogen on the luminescence of oxygen-deficient centers. The optical absorption method does not reveal an induced absorption band for the E′-center in the hydrogen-free samples with different levels of oxygen deficiency. Therefore, we did not detect the transformation of the defect responsible for the 7.6 eV absorption band or the ODC(I) defect into the E′-center. In the hydrogen-treated sample, the absorption of the E′-center was detected. The E′-centers creation in the hydrogen-treated sample was associated with precursors created by hydrogen treatment (≡Si–O–H and ≡Si–H) in the glass network. The destructive e-beam irradiation reveals an increase with dose of the ODC luminescence intensity in the sample exhibiting a small 7.6 eV band. That means that the corresponding luminescence centers are created. Optical absorption measurements in that case reveal the presence of E′-centers and a broad band at 7.6 eV. A compaction of the irradiated volume was detected. Therefore, we conclude that the E′-center is produced by heavy damage to the glass network or by the presence of precursors.