Growth of laser initiated damage is a potential lifetime limiter of laser optics. While laser initiated damage occurs most often on the exit surface of optical components, some damage sites can occur on the input surface. We have investigated the growth of laser initiated damage in fused silica when the damage occurs on the input surface of the optic. We have measured both the threshold for growth as well as the lateral growth rate at 351 nm. The lateral growth of damage on the input surface is best described as having a linear dependence on shot number. The rate of growth has a linear dependence on fluence, with an extrapolated threshold of approximately 6 J/cm2. This behavior will be contrasted to growth of damage when located on the exit surface. The behavior will be compared to growth of input surface damage when the irradiation wavelength is 1053 nm or 527 nm.© (2006) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.