Loose abrasive grinding was performed on a wide range of optical workpiece materials [single crystals of Al2O3 (sapphire), SiC, Y3Al5O12 (YAG), CaF2, and LiB3O5 (LBO); a SiO2-Al2O3-P2O5-Li2O glass-ceramic (Zerodur); and glasses of SiO2 : TiO2 (ULE), SiO2 (fused silica), and P2O5-Al2O3-K2O-BaO (phosphate)]. Using the magneto rheological finishing (MRF) taper wedge technique (where a wedge was polished on each of the ground workpieces and the resulting samples were appropriately chemically etched), the subsurface mechanical damage (SSD) characteristics were measured. The SSD depth for most of the workpiece materials was found to scale as E11/2 / H1, where E1 is the elastic modulus and H1 is the hardness of the workpiece. This material scaling is the same as that for the growth of lateral cracks, suggesting that lateral cracks are a dominant source for SSD rather than radial/median cracks, as previously proposed. Utilizing the SSD depth data from both this study and others, semiempirical relationships have been formulated, which allows for estimating the SSD depth as a function of workpiece material and important grinding parameters (such as abrasive size and applied pressure).