This non-destructive, optical fatigue detection and monitoring system relies on a small and unobtrusive light-scattering sensor that is installed on a component at the beginning of its life in order to periodically scan the component in situ. The method involves using a laser beam to scan the surface of the monitored component. The device scans a laser spot over a metal surface to which it is attached. As the laser beam scans the surface, disruptions in the surface cause increases in scattered light intensity. As the disruptions in the surface grow, they will cause the light to scatter more. Over time, the scattering intensities over the scanned line can be compared to detect changes in the metal surface to find cracks, crack precursors, or corrosion. This periodic monitoring of the surface can be used to indicate the degree of fatigue damage on a component and allow one to predict the remaining life and/or incipient mechanical failure of the monitored component.