We experimentally and by means of Monte Carlo simulations investigated the origin of the visible signal responsible for proton therapy dose measurement using bare plastic optical fibers. Experimentally, the fiber optic probe, embedded in tissue-mimicking plastics, was irradiated with a proton beam produced by a proton therapy cyclotron and the luminescence spectroscopy was performed by a CCD-coupled spectrograph to analyze the emission spectrum of the fiber tip. Monte Carlo simulations were performed using FLUKA Monte Carlo code to stochastically simulate radiation transport, ionizing radiation dose deposition, and optical emission of Čerenkov radiation. The spectroscopic study of proton-irradiated plastic fibers showed a continuous spectrum with shape different from that of Čerenkov radiation. The Monte Carlo simulations confirmed that the amount of the generated Čerenkov light does not follow the radiation absorbed dose in a medium. Our results show that the origin of the optical signal responsible for the proton dose measurement using bare optical fibers is not Čerenkov radiation. Our results point toward a connection between the scintillation of the plastic material of the fiber and the origin of the signal responsible for dose measurement.