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You are correct about the refresh rates not really affecting the image. For old CRT displays, the light given off by the phosphorous coating inside the tube would decay, and had to be refreshed. These devices scanned across the whole display many times a second.

You don't have that problem with LCD displays because once the phase is set in the liquid crystal, it remains at that state rather than decaying. Refreshing means 'changing' the state of the LCD dot to the same state once again. Therefore you don't get the flicker that you experience with CRTs.

There are several other things that could be causing your eyes to tire quickly. Check some of these - you don't actually have to answer these, but just be sure in your own mind that they're not the cause:

  • What is the brightness and contrast levels set for your display, this can have a huge impact on eye tiredness
  • How long have you had your laptop, is it new and different to the one you are used to?
  • What size font are you using? Have you switched from another OS where the text was just bigger?
  • What colour scheme are you using? If you use a heavy mix of red and green, for example, you might find that your eyes are struggling with the definition. Your particular eyes might instead struggle with other colour combinations making them more tired.
  • Do you wear glasses? Due an eye-check? Not looking to be humorous here, it's just a suggestion at a possible cause.

If you can change stuff around with the colour and/or brightness settings, especially avoid using overly bright screen in dim light, you might make things a bit easier.