Coincidence or not, I'm testing in the last days a similar theory. In my quest to find something bearable for my eyes, I have bought a new laptop (TN), and the screen seems bearable so far (5 days of testing). But the refresh rate is terribly low (60Hz, also because the screen response time is quite bad) so I was trying to raise the refresh rate with the CRU software.
Turns out, I have modified a 1080p profile in the software that have the wrong polarity (positive for Vertical instead of negative), the screen worked fine but in the next minutes and hours I started to have the same feeling that I have with any other screen I have (all IPS, except for the new laptop). After looking into the settings I realize the difference between the stock settings and the custom profile, so I tried to fix it. I felt relieved a few moments later but was not enough.
Then I replicated all the stock settings except for the refresh rate into a new custom resolution. I have been using it in the last 2 days, I would test for more time before posting here, but after seeing this topic I could not resist.
Also, I applied the laptop settings to my monitor (Gigabyte G24F) about 12h ago, it's working fine and seems easy on my eyes than before, but still not good as the TN laptop. I'll continue testing for a few days more, but if this is not all placebo effect, I would risk saying that those reference numbers are really helping but not perfect, maybe because they are just from a random laptop that is not perfect on my eyes either.
If you are willing to try, please back up your files and settings
*Please turn off Freesync/Gsync before doing this, otherwise it may fail. You can turn it back on after you're done.*
This can be easily done through the AMD driver (if you have an AMD graphic card/APU): Open the "AMD Radeon Software" > Click on the gear icon at the top right > Click on Display > Scroll down until "Display specs" and expand it > Save you original parameters in case something goes too wrong > On the right side, click on "Create New" next to "Custom resolutions" > Enter the new parameters and save it.
Through CRU (Custom Resolution Utility - Please check the developer's website for more details and double-check everything, something may go wrong, be aware of the issues you may cause): Open the app > Choose the monitor you want to try (active) > just below on "Detailed resolutions" click on the "add" button > Choose "Manual" on Timming > Fill up with the desired parameters > Click Ok (2x) > Restart the video driver or the PC
My "good" parameters: