Transient ionizing radiation fields have been observed to cause substantial optical loss in undoped LiNbO3 crystals operating at 1.06 microns. This loss is slow to recover and makes the selection of this material for Q-switch applications in radiation environments unfeasible. We have studied the effects of Mg doping on the radiation response of LiNbO3 crystals and have investigated the optical luminescence of doped and undoped samples. Our results indicate a strong correlation between crystal defects, formed primarily during crystal growth, and the radiation-induced optical loss exhibited by these materials. These findings have enabled us to produce radiation-hard LiNbO3 crystals for use in high gamma-field environments.