Often the tolerancing of an optical system is performed by treating the optical system as a black box in which the designer sets tolerances for perturbations and then runs a Monte Carlo analysis to determine the as-built performance. When the effects of the perturbations are not considered, the tolerances might result tighter than necessary, proper compensation might be missed, and manufacturing cost can be increased. By acquiring aberration sensitivity for each type of perturbation, an optical engineer can increase tolerances by ad hoc compensation. An aberration sensitivity evaluation can be performed quickly and can be incorporated into the initial lens design phase. A lens designer can find what surfaces or elements within the optical system will be problematic before any time-consuming Monte Carlo run is performed. In this paper we use aberration theory of plane symmetric systems to remove, to some useful extent, the black-box tolerancing approach and to provide some insights into tolerancing. The tolerance sensitivities that are analyzed are with respect to surface tilt, center thickness, index value, and radius. To analyze these perturbations, exact wavefront calculations are performed for the following aberrations: uniform astigmatism, uniform coma, linear astigmatism, distortion I, distortion II, spherical aberration, linear coma, quadratic astigmatism, and cubic distortion. We provide a discussion about how the aberration tolerancing analysis is useful.
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