The finite element method has become the nearly exclusive province of the structural mechanics community. However the method has broad applicability to many other fields of analysis as well. One very useful application of the finite element method is in optical systems, especially where the optical performance depends upon suitable behavior of the structural support system. Rigorous analogs allow an analyst to model many different optical systems and phenomena in finite elements. This paper explores the nature of optical analogs in finite element analysis and attempts to demonstrate how their quantitative rigor can lead to very accurate analysis of otherwise difficult problems. The discussion includes examples of both geometric optical analogs and physical optical analogs so the reader may appreciate the broad applicability of the method.