Hi everyone, I've read this forum for a long time now and I think it's time I shared my experience. The causes of severe eye strain and nerve problems in response to some (but not all) screens is still something that we're all trying to work out, and having ongoing ideas about the causes is useful for advancing our understanding. I'm a geophysicist who spends a lot of time in front of computers. About 2 years ago, all of a sudden, I started getting many of the symptoms people here describe: head and eye pressure, heavy heart beats, and nausea. For at least 18 month I had no idea what was going on and visited many specialists, none of which seemed to recognise the problem. One neurologist simply said it wasn't due to screens because all screens were 'pretty good' these days. After quitting my job and my university research because I couldn't function, I got marginally depressed because nobody else seemed to understand what was going on.
Eventually I began testing my response to various screens. and found that my MacBook, iPad Pro, and iPhone 6s were a major factor. I still don't know the exact cause, eg. temporal dithering, polarisation, or PMW. I suspect that one component relates to polarisation given that the iPhone 6s and iPad are PMW and supposedly dithering free (according to one or two reports around the net). When looking at a modern iPhone with polarised glasses, you can see that the screen uses some sort of polarisation method to be viewable at all angles. This isn't present on older iPhones, nor is it present on the galaxy s2 (which many of us swear by for minimal eye strain). Additionally to this, older apple screens (iPod touch gen 4) are fine, and they use a different polarisation filter. Somebody on here also noticed that after replacing their fancy OEM iphone display with a crappy ebay display, it became much easier to look at. I believe this is because the crappy non OEM screens use a more primitive polarisation method, which is easier for many of us to look at. However, some people have said that newer iPhone 7's and 8's are better on the eyes than 6 and 6s. Perhaps this new method of screen polarisation has been altered since it's first iteration? I'm planning on testing this at some point.
Something else I'd like to share: I ordered an Onyx Box Max 2, an AU$1000 e-ink tablet with a HDMI in that functions as a monitor. This device doesn't even have a backlight. It's not ideal solution, the refresh rate is about 0.1s, but it completely eliminates the issues that I was having, because essentially you're just looking at ink. No pixels, no backlight, no pmw. It's a safe go-to for word processing and web browsing and it may help some people here who are struggling to find a solution. The dasung e-ink monitor is another option, but the Onyx is far more functional.
As far as phones go, I've reverted back to my ever-trusty but dated galaxy s2. Like many other people, I've had no symptoms with this phone. I bought a Pixel XL, terrible eye strain but probably to the PMW. Tried an LG G3 (PMW free), good for eye strain but terrible phone that constantly restarts. I will soon order a crappy iPhone 6s screen and install it on my phone to test the polarisation theory. I'd definitely like to hear other people's experiences with newer iPhones, as well as if anyone's found a modern android phone (apart from the contentious HTC M8, M9 and M10) that doesn't cause strain.
TL;DR: Maybe polarisation has something to do with it. Consider an Onyx Box Max 2 as a monitor solution to totally eliminate eye strain. Paired with a galaxy S2, you can be pretty confident you won't have issues.
Thanks for reading, keen to discuss eye-strain related things with everyone.