If your children love playing in the garden for hours on end and you struggle to tempt them to come inside for their dinner, it might not be a bad thing after all.

This is because the more time little ones spend outdoors, it is less likely they will develop short-sightedness which is also known as myopia, a new study has revealed.

Data from the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition (GMAC) has found a decline in the amount of time children spend outside, which could be “impacting their eye health,” reports Sky News.

Why children spending more time outside can help prevent developing short-sightedness

Saffron Walden Reporter: How much time does your child spend outside?How much time does your child spend outside? (Image: Getty)

The study by GMAC found that 76 extra minutes outside a day can minimise the risk of myopia by half (50%).

But more than half of parents and carers report their children are playing in the great outdoors less than when they were younger.

Meanwhile, over three-quarters said they would be willing to “spend more time in the great outdoors with their family.”

Sky News added: “However, they feel unable to because their kids prefer to spend their time on electronic devices or the parents don't feel they have enough time.”

@dr.mfarr Attempt to show how people see with different nearsightedness/myopia! #myopia #nearsightedness #glasses #vision #eyes #eye #optometry #eyedoctor ♬ Better Days - NEIKED & Mae Muller & Polo G

Optometrist Hamza Mussa, who is working with GMAC, explained: "Myopia is another term for short-sightedness, and it is on the rise in children. It has become a global health issue, so regular eye examinations (not just a vision screening) with an optometrist are important to identify any problems, especially at an early age.

"It is an irreversible disease and can be a barrier to a child's ability to do their best and fulfil their potential, so it is crucial that children have annual eye exams."

What is myopia?

Myopia is a “chronic, progressive condition” which affects the “elongation” of the eye.

The GMAC website adds: “As a result, when light enters a myopic eye, it is focused in front of the retina rather than directly on it, which causes far vision to be blurred.

“Generally, myopia can be an inherited condition, but also excessive ‘near work,’ (like holding a digital device close to the face) and lack of outdoor time have been associated with an earlier onset of progressive myopia.

“Myopia is associated with a higher risk of eye conditions such as glaucoma, retinal detachment and macular degeneration (MMD)—which may lead to vision impairment or blindness in the long-term. Early detection and intervention can help reduce such life-long risks.”