Since I have been doing a lot of research into monitors in April, I can offer a few pointers.
First and foremost, be very careful about backlight PWM-induced flicker, especially on LED LCD monitors. Read more here:
It really depends on how sensitive your eyes/nerves are, but it can induce considerable strain even if you don't realize it. Recently, monitors not using PWM for brightness control appeared on the market and if you are very sensitive, they are worth considering. Good review sites like prad.de or tftcentral always measure and review backlight control method as well.
current monitor has a max resolution of 1680x1050.. but i only set it to 1280x800 because I sit like 1/2 meter away and the text is small enough as it is.
This is always a bad idea, since if you use a non-native resolution, everything is scaled and therefore blurry. Increasing text size is usually a better option. Getting a monitor with larger pixel size (i.e. low DPI) may be a good idea in your case, but maybe visiting an optician and getting proper glasses would not hurt either.
Considering the IPS/VA/TN question, it really depends on what you prefer and how you use your monitor. LCD monitors are inherently flawed, because they create image by filtering white light through liquid crystal color filters, therefore the backlight bleeding, pixel response, viewing angles, poor contrast and/or imperfect color reproduction will always be a problem. The only real advantage over CRTs or OLEDs is longevity. CRT, plasma, OLED, they all degrade with use, and in case of OLED it's particularly bad problem, but until the backlight kicks the bucket or the electronics fry out, your LCD can last very long.
If you are a hardcore gamer or play a lot of fast, 3D fps games, consider using a TN monitor, maybe even 120Hz TN monitor. The extra frames can go a long way in reaction precision and don't believe people who say "can't see more than 60 fps". If you do graphics, IPS monitors are good for precise color reproduction and image quality. (M/P/S)VA monitors offer best contrast, and are good for watching movies.
Quick and dirty guide:
TN - fastest response, lowest input lag, cheapest, but worst colors (6bit usually), worst viewing angles
IPS - good color reproduction and viewing angles, but usually bad input lag/response. S-IPS are slower, but better for graphic professionals, while cheaper e-IPS are faster, but introduce a nasty glow and color shift. The newer PLS panels seem superior, but most models I saw had very agressive backlight PWM. Eizo 2332 Foris made my eyes bleed in just 2 hours, returned it to shop
PVA/MVA - good contrast, really crappy response time, usually bad input lag, good colors
As far as backlight goes, it's CCFL vs LED today, but CCFLs are receding, replaced by cheaper LED backlight.
CCFL - cold cathode fluorescent lighting, provides softer, mellow, yellowish backlight I personally like more. But the unit is heavier, the tubes contain poisonous mercury vapors, and the coating degrades with time, decreasing brightness and color reproduction. I opted for it though
LED - better color gamut, but more aggressive, bluish white, in combination with agressive PWM it can really kill your eyes, because LEDS switch on and off faster, if you turn fast in a FPS game, it creates a stroboscope-like effect which disturbs fluidity of the motion. Also, strange light bleeding in high-contrast shifts. Did not like it at all.
Hopefully, OLEDs will arrive soon to save the day, I am fed up with LCDs, compared to OLED, they are horrible image quality wise.