JustSC - I suffer from some kind of pain in the muscles behind my eyes when the sharpness settings are too high. For example, if I have the VM settings in the SM turned on, with MIDES added, then the screen just hurts the hell out of my entire forehead. If I have the screen looking like this, it looks fanstastic, but the second I relax my eyes, I can literally feel a profound throbbing in my eye muscles. The real culprits are the VM values, which i have learned to ALWAYS keep on zero.
I have NEVER had a problem in a movie theater, nor do I have a problem watching the newer LCOS or DLP screens. Many have said that high contrast leads to eye strain, but this isn't what my issue is.
Right now, I don't have much of a problem in regards to eyestrain with my display. It's because there is just enough sharpness for my eyes to see detail, but not too much where it becomes overbearing like I mentioned above. It is not a lighting issue either. Tt could be just the nature of RP CRT. But again, I have the set at a good level now, that produces a great picture. In a way it's almost as if my eyes almost direct me to the most natural-looking image - which also happens to be the image that is the least straining on your eyes. But as we all know, it is QUITE the challenge sorting through these large number of codes to get the correct image, and that is a challenge if I've ever seen one!
I still do not agree with all of the recomendations for VM use, at least for component or 480P use. Film is not naturally sharp, it is clear. Adding VM's seems to bring the image off the screen in a way which creates this 3D effect. But this is only due to the artificial layering that you're placing on top of the image. The fact that there is this layering forces your eyes to constantly make a decision on which "layer" to focus on, and this is a decision your eye doesn't always want to make, which creates eye strain. With every change of shot, there is a different degree of sharpness layering based on what's onscreen, and your eye each time has to adjust. The image should do the focusing, not your eyes. Film is like a window looking onto a clear image, not an image jumping off the screen from all that the layerings we've added to it. These extra settings I'm told looks great on the Avia sharpness patterns, but I still don't personally like the effect, especially the effect it has on my eyes. You do need the minimum sharpness to bring the image appropriately to the surface, once it gets past that though, the image becomes overbearing. This is all in my opinion, so please don't this too literally. There is some truth to it however.
The other thing that must be right (at least for me) are the colors. When I first purchased my set, I noticed that cool and warm looked great to my eyes, but neutral was a struggle to watch.
I have never had any eye problems which I know of - if anything i have a very very slight blurring in the right eye. Otherwise I have great vision.