ABSTRACT Purpose: to provide an integrative review of indexed articles published from 2009 to 2019 on the effect of spectral overlays on visual parameters and reading ability. Methods: keywords were used to search seven databases. Duplicate entries, reviews, literature reviews, editor's comments, and congress abstracts were excluded, as well as papers that were not relevant, based on their titles and abstracts. A total of 52 articles, which were read in full, were eligible at this stage. Of these, 12 articles, published in Portuguese or English from 2009 to 2019, were included. Results: all 12 articles included evaluated the effect of overlays on the reading rate. There was an improvement in different visual parameters (ocular accommodation and eye movement), facial recognition, and reading (reading rate, relative efficiency, and comprehension). The use of overlays reduced visual stress regardless of refractive, orthoptic or cognitive disorders. The associated conditions investigated were autism spectrum disorder, Tourette syndrome, stroke, deafness, dyslexia, and auditory temporal processing disorder. Conclusion: the effectiveness of overlays in improving reading quality is consistently demonstrated in the literature. The reviewed articles showed that the overlays’ effect is more expressive when the visual stress is associated with conditions that present sensory alterations and cortical hyperactivity.