Laser imaging and transport systems are considered in the regime where laser-induced damage and/or thermal distortion have significant design implications. System design and component specifications are discussed and quantified in terms of the net system transport efficiency and phase budget. Optical substrate materials, figure, surface roughness, coatings, and sizing are considered in the context of visible and near-IR optical systems that have been developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for laser isotope separation applications. In specific examples of general applicability, details of the bulk and/or surface absorption, peak and/or average power damage threshold, coating characteristics and function, substrate properties, or environmental factors will be shown to drive the component size, placement, and shape in high-power systems. To avoid overstressing commercial fabrication capabilities or component design specifications, procedures will be discussed for compensating for aberration buildup, using a few carefully placed adjustable mirrors. By coupling an aggressive measurements program on substrates and coatings to the design effort, an effective technique has been established to project high-power system performance realistically and, in the process, drive technology developments to improve performance or lower cost in large-scale laser optical systems.