The present study aimed at clarifying the relationships between the use of sensory aids and the quality of life (QOL) and mortality of elderly people suffering from sensory deprivation. We carried out a cross-sectional survey on the QOL and the sensory status of an elderly cohort and a 6-year longitudinal follow-up of mortality rates among 1192 non-institutionalized people aged 70-75 years in a North Italian town. We classified respondents into three groups: those with functionally adequate visual and hearing acuity (n = 275); those with sensory impairment, corrected by the use of sensory aids (n = 680), and those with uncorrected sensory impairment (n = 245). In the whole sample, multiple logistic regression analyses showed that an uncorrected sensory deprivation was associated with a significant and independent impairment of mood, self-sufficiency in instrumental activities of daily living and social relationships. Such impairments were not apparent in the subjects with sensory impairments who were using sensory aids. In men with uncorrected sensory impairment the unadjusted 6-year mortality rate was almost twice that of the other two groups, which did not differ from each other. No corresponding differences were detected in women. Multivariate analysis showed that the effect of the sensory aid status on mortality was indirect and mediated through the global physical health status and the social relationships. We conclude that our cross-sectional data demonstrate an association between uncorrected sensory deprivation and a low QOL; such an association was not present in subjects with corrected sensory deprivation.