How can I repair screen distortion?

MacBook Pro 15 2009 2.8 Ghz, 8 GB with Nvidia GeForce 9400 M 256 MB video

Was running fine until this morning when after waking from sleep mode, the screen would not come on. I could hear the click from certain keys and the caps lock light came on/off so the system was running, just not the screen. Turned off and on, got the "dahhhhh" boot up noise and again, nothing on the screen but could hear things when certain buttons pressed. I turned it back off and let it sit for about 30 min.

Turned it back on and this time the screen finally displayed but with horrible distortion. Red flickering lines made a checkerboard pattern across the screen and the hues were all off. The screen flickering made the screen unreadable, so I turned it back off and waited an hour.

During this time, I did some research and came across a site where it mentioned that resetting PRAM could do the trick. So I made the appropriate key presses and when it rebooted, much of the distortion was gone, but the red flickering was still evident and the colors were still way off - the white sections of pages was a horrible shade of teal and text left large areas of white space around them - sort of like a bad gif image when you attempt to make it into a transparent image - very bad distortion around the edges.

It's been about 3 hours now and the last time I booted it up (30 min ago) it was still the same. Any advice?

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Took it to the hospital (Apple Store Genius Bar) over the weekend and, of course, all of their tests and systems checks came back OK. I showed them the photos and videos of the screens (good thing I had video evidence) and they said it looked to be an issue with the graphics card. Sometimes they overheat (which could've been entirely possible since I rarely turn off my laptop - I just put it to sleep) and they have been known to just go out. They said if it happened again, I'd more than likely need to have the board replaced.

by B M

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To help narrow what system(s) are causing the problem hook it up to an external monitor. If the picture is good on the external monitor we know the video chip and it's circuitry are good and the problem is with the LCD or LVDS. If the picture is bad on it also we know the problem is the video chip.

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B M will be eternally grateful.

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