I heard that when women light candles, due to a problem in making a berachah prior to the action, they light the candles, cover their eyes, and then recite the berachah. They have fulfilled their obligation when they open their eyes and see the candles. Most women also have a custom of saying various tefillos by candle lighting. Unfortunately, most say those prayers right after the berachah without first looking at the candles. This should be a hafseik in the berachah. They should open their eyes and look at the candles. Then they may close their eyes and daven as long as they wish. Can you verify the halachic source for this? (i.e. kitzur shulchan aruch, mishna berurah etc.)
The Rema (OCH 263.5, Darkei Moshe) based on the Mordechai (Shabbos §294), writes that one should make the blessing before looking at the candles, in order to fulfil the obligation to bless before the Mitzvah (עובר לעשייתן).
R' Moshe Shternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2, Siman 153) writes that accordingly, one would have to look at the candles immediately after the blessing, so as not to make a hefsek between the blessing and the mitzvah. However, he suggests a novel interpretation in the Rema - the Mitzvah is not the benefiting from the candle, but the lighting; the caveat to bless before looking is in order that it should still be considered עובר לעשייתן, although the blessing is on the prior kindling (see above link for further explanation). If we were to accept that explanation, once the blessing has been made, there would be no requirement to subsequently look at the candles - and therefore the prayers would not be a hefsek.
R' Yochanan Shor asked R' Shloime Zalman Auerbach this question (if women are required to bless before benefiting, they should be forbidden from praying until after they have gazed at the candles), and he answered (Based on a Magen Avraham 263.11) that the praying is considered part of the Hadlaka process and therefore does not constitute a hefsek.
The source for this entire question is the Remo (based on the Mordechai and the Maharil) in Shulcahn Aruch Orach Chaim 263:5 who says:
הגה: יֵשׁ מִי שֶׁאוֹמֵר שֶׁמְּבָרְכִין קֹדֶם הַהַדְלָקָה, וְיֵשׁ מִי שֶׁאוֹמֵר שֶׁמְּבָרֵךְ אַחַר הַהַדְלָקָה (מָרְדְּכַי סוֹף ב''מ), וּכְדֵי שֶׁיְּהֵא עוֹבֵר לַעֲשִׂיָּתוֹ לֹא יֵהָנֶה מִמֶּנָּה עַד לְאַחַר הַבְּרָכָה, וּמְשִׂימִין הַיָּד לִפְנֵי הַנֵּר אַחַר הַדְלָקָה וּמְבָרְכִין, וְאַחַר כָּךְ מְסַלְּקִין הַיָּד וְזֶה מִקְרֵי עוֹבֵר לָעֲשִׂיָהּ, וְכֵן הַמִּנְהָג (מַהֲרִי''ל).
Similar wording on the Aruch Hashulchan.
The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (75:4) mentions that she should make a point of looking at the candles, to complete the "lighting post Bracha" scenario.
וּכְדֵי שֶׁתְּהֵא הַבְּרָכָה עוֹבֵר לַעֲשִׂיָּתָן, פּוֹרֶשֶׁת יָדֶיהָ כְּנֶגֶד פָּנֶיהָ שֶׁלֹּא תִרְאֶה הַנֵּרוֹת, וּמְבָרֶכֶת וּמְסִירָה אֶת הַיָּדַיִם וְרוֹאָה אֶת הַנֵּרוֹת, וַהֲוֵי כְּאִלּוּ בֵּרְכָה קֹדֶם הַהַדְלָקָה.
It would seem that - as you propose - they should look at the candles ASAP after finishing the Bracha, however I don't see anybody discussing this explicitly.
BTW: The Sefardim first make the bracha and then light. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Yalkut Yosef (263:33) says that Sefardim who follow the Ashkenazi custom are making a Bracha L'Vatala.