During the pathogenesis of coronary atherosclerosis, from lesion initiation to rupture, arterial mechanical properties are altered by a number of cellular, molecular, and hemodynamic processes. There is growing recognition that mechanical factors may actively drive vascular cell signaling and regulate atherosclerosis disease progression. In advanced plaques, the mechanical properties of the atheroma influence stress distributions in the fibrous cap and mediate plaque rupture resulting in acute coronary events. This review paper explores current optical technologies that provide information on the mechanical properties of arterial tissue to advance our understanding of the mechanical factors involved in atherosclerosis development leading to plaque rupture. The optical approaches discussed include optical microrheology and traction force microscopy that probe the mechanical behavior of single cell and extracellular matrix components, and intravascular imaging modalities including laser speckle rheology, optical coherence elastography, and polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography to measure the mechanical properties of advanced coronary lesions. Given the wealth of information that these techniques can provide, optical imaging modalities are poised to play an increasingly significant role in elucidating the mechanical aspects of coronary atherosclerosis in the future.