Fabrication of fused silica optics for high-powered Nd:YAG laser applications commonly employs grinding and
polishing processes to generate smooth, specular surfaces. The industry often describes such surfaces as "laser quality"
after assessment against such gauges as surface roughness or scratch-dig standards; however, surfaces deemed
acceptable have performed variably when actually exposed to high-powered laser illumination. Traditional processes to
prepare such surfaces have often relied on rules of thumb, but we have found a convenient and simple method to help the
fabricator optimize expressly for a desired performance metric, that of low subsurface damage. Subsurface damage often
has immediate impact on susceptibility to destruction by high-power laser illumination, and we find that this damage is
not universally related to surface roughness. In addition, we show that surface roughness measurements may vary
depending on the measurement method used, such as white light interferometry (WLI), variable angle spectroscopic
ellipsometry (VASE) or atomic force microscopy (AFM).